The Boulder City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a long-term planning document that will guide redevelopment for an area of the city east of 30th Street known as Boulder Junction.
The plan calls for altering the underlying land-use map to allow for more mixed-use housing in the area. It also lays the groundwork for “people-focused” transportation infrastructure that city officials said will prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars.
The original plan for this area, known as the Transit Village Area Plan, was first adopted in 2007. In 2021, the Boulder City Council made it one of their two-year priorities to update the planning document for the eastern half of the area.
“It’s an extremely well-done plan,” Mayor Aaron Brockett said. “It positions this area well for the 21st century.”
Today, the area is primarily offices, warehouses, commercial shops and industrial buildings. Over the next 20 years, city officials estimate the plan will add 1,500 to 2,500 homes to the neighborhood.
The plan envisions “adaptive reuse” of existing buildings so that one day “arts studios, breweries or distilleries, coffee roasters and small-scale manufacturing” occupy what are now industrial buildings. Overall, according to city officials, it will create an additional 3,000 to 4,000 jobs in the area.
This sort of redevelopment is likely to drive up the property values and lead to the displacement of existing businesses. In light of this concern, councilmembers urged city officials to consider rent stabilization and incentives to build smaller commercial and industrial spaces to prevent displacement, among other ideas.
The planning document completes a larger vision for the city’s primarily commercial and industrial eastern half. Councilmembers last year approved the East Boulder Subcommunity Plan, which is expected to bring thousands of homes to the area. Such redevelopment is one of the few opportunities the city has to chip away at its shortage of housing.
Councilmembers are not changing the land-use plan for the section of Boulder Junction west of the railroad tracks, where new apartment buildings and businesses are popping up. At the center of this area is the Depot Square Station, a bus station operated by RTD. Since the bus station opened in 2015, RTD has slashed services across the region, leaving the neighborhood without the bus services it was designed for.
The latest plan for the neighborhood is built around the hope that one day, a passenger train will stop in the area. Supporters of a multi-billion dollar Front Range passenger rail line from Pueblo to Fort Collins are hoping to place a measure on the 2024 ballot to help pay for it.