Boulder: City Planning Its Own Mixed-Use Project

Anyone who has lived in Boulder for very long remembers the old Boulder Community Hospital complex at Alpine and Balsam Streets. A year ago, the City bought the 8.8 acre parcel for $40 million. Now it is trying to figure out how to utilize and redevelop it.

This is an interesting project because it’s unusual for a municipal government to buy a property with the intent of turning it into a mixed-use development. Tuesday night the Council got a look at the project and affirmed the vision for the project, “a vibrant multigenerational hub for community life and city services – a welcoming and inclusive new model for affordable sustainable living.”

The City hired the Urban Land Institute (ULI) of Colorado to prepare a report with suggestions on how to best utilize the complex; its report was included in the Council’s agenda. ULI’s panel of development experts agreed that the medical pavilion, an office complex adjacent to the hospital, would be a good location for City offices, which are currently scattered throughout Boulder. The panel also agreed the project should be mixed-use to blend in with current development in the area. The panel liked the idea of using an added fourth floor for market rate, loft-style housing that would benefit from amazing views and access to transit and retail. This market-rate housing could also help finance other aspects of the project such as subsidized affordable housing.

Staff has already suggested the hospital itself cannot be redeveloped because of a variety of issues with the aged building, so it will likely be demolished and the materials “re-purposed.” The ULI panel agreed this was the best approach.

The City and Boulder County are discussing a joint City/County office complex on the site, which would leave another County-owned parcel at Iris and Broadway for a new affordable housing complex. It will likely take at least another year before the final plan for the Alpine-Balsam parcel is complete.

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