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RTD Selects Developer for Boulder Site


By

The Regional Transportation District chose two firms to develop the first transit-oriented project in Boulder’s Transit Village. Pedersen Development Company and Adolfson & Peterson Construction Company filed with the City of Boulder a concept plan for the mixed-use project on the north side of Pearl Street east of 30th Street.

Union Depot (photo by Roger Wolvington)

The project will incorporate RTD’s planned bus station, along with 78 to 80 affordable housing units, a 135-room hotel, restoration of the historic Boulder Union Depot into “a lively gathering place” and a 360-space parking garage. Boulder Housing Partners will be involved in the development of the affordable housing. The developers state in their concept review documents that the project will use solar energy as “a key component,” depending on the continued availability of Xcel Energy’s solar rebates.

The RTD garage will be underground, with the mixed-use project built atop it. The bus station will have seven boarding gates for local, regional and bus rapid transit coaches and will be the third RTD station in Boulder. The parking garage will provide park-and-ride spaces for transit users and parking for the apartments and hotel.

Consideration of the concept plan will be on the agenda for the April 21 meeting of the Boulder Planning Board. The meeting will start at 6 PM and be held in the council chambers at the Municipal Building. Public comments will be heard at the meeting.

An initial look finds, at least from my perspective, an imaginative concept that conforms to the principles behind the admittedly mediocre Transit Village area plan. The 3.2 acre site is zoned MU-4, which allows (and indeed encourages) high density development. The actual architectural details will evolve from public hearings and input from City planners, members of the Planning Board and ultimately the Boulder City Council.

Concept Plan (from http://tinyurl.com/64kwl27)

Three issues may cause some controversy:

  • Should Union Depot be restored and used for public purposes or leased as a private restaurant or entertainment facility? When the depot was located across 30th Street in what was then the parking lot of the Crossroads Commons shopping center it was managed by the Boulder Jaycees as a meeting place for community organizations.
  • The residential units wrap around the parking garage on the east and south sides. The apartments on the east side will be adjacent to the BNSF railroad tracks, which could result in noise problems for residents.
  • The concept plan shows the apartment building to be four stories in height, which should be within the city’s 55 foot height limit for the Transit Village. However, the hotel is portrayed in the architectural renderings as having five stories, which could violate that ordinance.

Pedersen Development Company has already received city approval for Junction Place, another transit-oriented project directly across Pearl Street from the RTD project. That project will include 319 apartment units atop about 16,000 square feet of retail space. Both Junction Place and the RTD project will capitalize on the Transit Village’s concept of lessening reliance on auto use by including facilities for bike share and car share, reduced garage parking spaces for tenants and with covered bicycle parking.

It is difficult for developers in the current economic environment to obtain construction financing. However, Boulder’s land use policies limit, to some extent, the potential for overbuilding, so market conditions for apartments are particularly favorable. The last market-rent apartment project built in Boulder was in 2003. Construction on Two-Nine North, the new apartments at 30th and Walnut streets, will be completed later this year, well before Pedersen’s Junction Place project comes onto the market.

 

RTD Selects Developer for Boulder Site

By Eric Karnes

The Regional Transportation District chose two firms to develop the first transit-oriented project in Boulder’s Transit Village. Pedersen Development Company and Adolfson & Peterson Construction Company filed with the City of Boulder a concept plan for the mixed-use project on the north side of Pearl Street east of 30th Street.

The project will incorporate RTD’s planned bus station, along with 78 to 80 affordable housing units, a 135-room hotel, restoration of the historic Boulder Union Depot into “a lively gathering place” and a 360-space parking garage. Boulder Housing Partners will be involved in the development of the affordable housing. The developers state in their concept review documents that the project will use solar energy as “a key component”, depending on the continued availability of Xcel Energy’s solar rebates.

The RTD garage will be underground, with the mixed-use project built atop it. The bus station will have seven boarding gates for local, regional and bus rapid transit coaches and will be the third RTD station in Boulder. The parking garage will provide park-and-ride spaces for transit users and parking for the apartments and hotel.

Consideration of the concept plan will be on the agenda for the April 21 meeting of the Boulder Planning Board. The meeting will start at 6 PM and be held in the City Council Chamber at the Municipal Building. Public comments will be heard at the meeting.

An initial look finds, at least from my perspective, an imaginative concept that conforms to the principles behind the admittedly mediocre Transit Village area plan. The 3.2 acre site is zoned MU-4, which allows (and indeed encourages) high density development. The actual architectural details will evolve from public hearings and input from City planners, members of the Planning Board and ultimately the Boulder City Council.

Three issues may cause some controversy:

· Should Union Depot be restored and used for public purposes or leased as a private restaurant or entertainment facility? When the depot was located across 30th Street in what was then the parking lot of the Crossroads Commons shopping center it was managed by the Boulder Jaycees as a meeting place for community organizations.

· The residential units wrap around the parking garage on the east and south sides. The apartments on the east side will be adjacent to the BNSF railroad tracks, which could result in noise problems for residents.

· The concept plan shows the apartment building to be four stories in height, which should be within the City’s 55 foot height limit for the Transit Village. However, the hotel is portrayed in the architectural renderings as having five stories, which could violate that ordinance.

Pedersen Development Company has already received City approval for Junction Place, another transit-oriented project directly across Pearl Street from the RTD project. That project will include 319 apartment units atop about 16,000 square feet of retail space. Both Junction Place and the RTD project will capitalize on the Transit Village’s concept of lessening reliance on auto use by including facilities for bike share and car share, reduced garage parking spaces for tenants and with covered bicycle parking.

It is difficult for developers in the current economic environment to obtain construction financing. However, Boulder’s land use policies limit, to some extent, the potential for overbuilding, so market conditions for apartments are particularly favorable. The last market-rent apartment project built in Boulder was in 2003. Construction on Two-Nine North, the new apartments at 30th and Walnut streets, will be completed later this year, well before Pedersen’s Junction Place project comes onto the market.

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One Response to “RTD Selects Developer for Boulder Site”

  1. Zane Selvans says:

    My main concerns when I looked at the TVAP and Junction Place Village in the fall were that it didn’t really seem to be encouraging human use of the street, and that it was unclear how the parking fee structure was going to work — it’s decoupled parking (you’ll rent space for your car separate from yourself) but unless they charge the real cost, it’ll end up being subsidized by the non-drivers, and unless they effectively control on-street parking, people will just take advantage of it.

    Also, I really hope they’ll look at making the buildings highly efficient before they go installing a gigantic solar array. A tight, extremely well insulated building envelope is cheaper per unit fossil-fuel use avoided than solar, and will increases the quality of life in the dwellings too. Much less noise, fewer drafts and condensation issues.

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