Boulder City Council on Thursday evening cleared the way for the implementation of Phase 2 of the Boulder Junction project by approving a number of changes to the Transit Village Area Plan and minor changes to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
The TVAP, created in 2007, laid out the original plan to turn a 160-acre area roughly bound by 30th Street, Valmont Road, Foothills Parkway and Pearl Parkway into Boulder Junction: a walkable, bike-friendly, multi-use space with housing, office buildings, retail and access to local and regional transit.
The project has been split into two phases. Phase 1 of the project, which includes the development of the portion of the project site west of the BNSF train track, is most of the way complete. The rest of the site, to the east of the track, will be developed in Phase 2, the completion of which is expected to take about 15 years.
According to a city staff presentation, the vision is for the Phase 2 area in the TVAP to be “lively and engaging with a range of uses” to attract diverse populations. It is also intended to be sustainable, walkable, bikeable and possibly car-free in some areas. A variety of building types and sizes will inhabit the same area, creating an ethos of “charming chaos.”
Staff held focus group meetings, open houses, outreach events, site tours and other engagement opportunities to gather public feedback on whether revisions to the TVAP were needed as Phase 2 moves ahead.
Based in part on this feedback, staff developed a number of proposed changes to the TVAP that focused on the land use, transportation and urban design sections. Kristofer Johnson, comprehensive planning manager for Boulder, introduced these changes, which included adding more flexibility for housing and mixed uses, identifying more green spaces and community gathering areas and improving the pedestrian and bicycle network.
The proposed changes to the BVCP included adding descriptions of adopted subcommunity and area plans. It would also revise the TVAP description to sync it up with the TVAP changes approved tonight.
Some councilmembers, including Councilmembers Tara Winer and Rachel Friend, expressed worries about possible displacement of residents and businesses as the Phase 2 area is developed.
“It seems to me that this is not our first rodeo on displacement,” Friend said. “I remember looking at that on the (University) Hill hotel, as an example, and offering relocation money to businesses (that had to close).”
But even so, councilmembers strongly supported the staff’s proposed changes and voted to pass the TVAP and BVCP changes on a unanimous (8-0) vote, with several praising the community engagement work staff have done on the project.
“This is awesome,” said Councilmember Matthew Benjamin. “I (give) credit to staff for thorough engagement. And I think that’s probably the hallmark of this, is just how much engagement has been done at all levels to really hear what’s been going on. And I’m just really happy to see this.”
With the TVAP changes approved, the next steps in the project include official updates to the BVCP and Transportation Master Plan, which are planned for later this year. Zoning and regulation updates will likely be coming in late 2024.