Opportunity Zone Program
News and Events
On Oct.15, City Council passed proposed Ordinance 8358 on first reading with a vote of 6-1 to create an Opportunity Zone (O.Z.) overlay district that would prohibit demolition of attached dwelling units in federal Census Tract 122.03 for the period the tract is a qualified O.Z. Ordinance 8358 would also lift the moratorium ordinance that was adopted in late 2018 by council and would keep the proposed overlay district in effect for the duration of the federal program (approx. 10 years). Staff will need to explore potential new requirements that would apply to any project benefitting from federal O.Z. funding and may be a prioritized work program item from the next City Council.
Relatedly, City Council also passed proposed Ordinance 8337 with a vote of 6-1 to update the Use Tables to be more consistent with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) for zoning districts within the federally designated O.Z. (Census Tract 122.03). The focus of these changes has been to follow BVCP goals of reducing non-residential capacity through restricting office, incentivizing residential in appropriate locations (preferably permanently affordable housing) and protecting and creating more opportunities for retail. While the changes reference the O.Z., the changes would apply to the respective zones city wide. Please visit the Use Table and Standards project webpage for additional information.
City Council final decision to adopt the proposed ordinances is scheduled for Oct. 29. If adopted the ordinances would go into effect in 30 days. The Oct.15 memo for the proposed ordinance can be found online here starting on page 232. Video of the council meetings is available to view online here.
The Opportunity Zone Program is a federal initiative arising out of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 intended to encourage private investment in low-income urban and rural community properties or businesses by providing a federal tax incentive on long-term investments. The Opportunity Zone located in Boulder (tract 122.03), highlighted on the map on this page, was certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in April 2018.
Opportunity Zone-related funding may, in certain circumstances, fund public infrastructure or investments providing community benefit (for example, affordable housing, public infrastructure and start-up business investments). Specific business types, as specified by the IRS, are excluded from the program, including golf courses, country clubs, gaming institutions and liquor stores. Recent IRS guidance provides more detail on the establishment, qualification and uses of Opportunity Funds.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury certifies census tracts that meet eligibility requirements as Opportunity Zones. In June 2018, the federal process identifying 8,700 Opportunity Zones across the United States, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories was completed. Certified zones include 126 Opportunity Zones in Colorado, with one located in the city of Boulder and three in other Boulder County communities. Certification lasts 10 years.
Opportunity Zone certification does not affect the applicability of local tax code, zoning or city regulatory authority. Opportunity Zone funds may be used with other incentive programs.
Proposed ordinances to amend the Land Use Code’s Use Standards and Use Table, associated with zoning districts of the federally designated Opportunity Zone (Census Tract 122.03), and to lift portions of the moratorium Ordinance 8314 , are scheduled for consideration by City Council on:
- Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019 - City Council continuation of the Second Reading on proposed ordinances 8337 and 8347, and first reading of alternative ordinance 8358. Public comments may be emailed to City Council at [email protected]. (The public hearing was held on Sept. 3, 2019. No further in-person testimony will be received.)
- Oct. 1, 2019 – Continuation of City Council Second Reading
- Open comment will be at the beginning of the meeting Oct. 1. The public may also email comments to [email protected] .
- Sept. 3, 2019 - City Council Second Reading and Public Hearing
- Aug. 13, 2019 - City Council: Staff Presentation, and Council Question and Answer Session (no public hearing)
- Aug. 6, 2019 - City Council First Reading (no public hearing)
All meetings will be held at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located at 1777 Broadway, unless otherwise noted on the City Council webpage. More information including the staff memorandum, draft ordinances, and materials may be found online by visiting the City Council webpage close to the meeting date. The Sept. 3, 2019, City Council memo can be found online here, and the Sept. 3 meeting may be viewed online through this link.
Information on the ongoing Use Table and Standards project can be found on the project web page: https://bouldercolorado.gov/plan-develop/use-table-and-standards-review .
- On April 17, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance providing additional details about investment in qualified opportunity zones and updated IRA Opportunity Zone guidance.
- City Council discussed potential land use code changes to address the Opportunity Zone moratorium discussed below at its April 2, 2019 meeting. Staff analysis and recommended zoning changes are included in this memorandum to council .
- At the City Council meeting on Feb. 5, 2019, council adopted an emergency moratorium ordinance 8314 , (amending ordinances 8312 and 8308) to temporarily suspend the acceptance of building permits, site review applications and other development applications for projects in the Opportunity Zone located in Boulder (census tract 122.03) that will result in adding non-residential floor area, any demolition that results in the removal of multi-family dwelling units or any nonresidential floor area, or the creation of any new dwelling units that do not meet the requirements of the ordinance until June 22, 2020.
- The moratorium is intended to provide time for the city to help prepare for the potential of additional investment in the Opportunity Zone by completing a review of planning and zoning regulations to ensure that investment in the area will be consistent with community values, including those outlined in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. City Council intends to lift requirements of the ordinance as the analysis of each zoning district and planning area is completed.
- The ordinance applies to land within the Opportunity Zone (tract 122.03) except for any land in a Business Commercial zone district (BC-1, BC-2) as shown on the Boulder Zoning Districts Map.
- The moratorium does not apply to tenant finishes, or conversions of use within an existing building that do not result in new floor area. Other exemptions include:
- Complete development applications submitted to the city prior to Dec. 18, 2018;
- Construction of an addition that does not exceed 10 percent of entry floor area or 2,500 sq. ft., whichever is less;
- Demolition of any non-residential floor area that does not result in the removal of any exterior walls;
- Buildings owned by community-serving Colorado nonprofit organizations, or the construction of any building or conversion of floor area for a museum use;
- Development within the Phase I area of the Transit Village Area Plan (TVAP) adopted in 2007, also known as the Boulder Junction access district; and
- Construction of new housing units that meet certain requirements.
Boulder's census tract 122.03:
- Comprises a 2.5-square-mile area
- Includes approximately 4,000 households
- Includes approximately 1,500 businesses
- Has a median household income of $51,719 (compared to the city median of $58,484)
- Includes, among other locations, the Diagonal Plaza area, Boulder Junction, UCAR, two mobile home communities (Orchard Grove and Vista Village) and Boulder Community Hospital.
The city manager approved submitting census tract 122.03 for Opportunity Zone certification based on staff’s analysis of community factors that could be aided by designation, if selected, including housing, affordable commercial, public-private partnerships enhancing infrastructure investments and support for local businesses. In addition to census tract 122.03, there were 11 other eligible census tracts in Boulder, including areas such as Gunbarrel and the Alpine-Balsam area. The city’s primary focus was on providing incentive for redevelopment of the Diagonal Plaza, which is part of census tract 122.03 and which City Council previously had identified as an area in need of redevelopment. Census tract 122.03 includes other properties and many existing businesses across a myriad of industries.
Additional background information from the May 28, 2019 City Council study session can be found in the study session memorandum to council , where council discussed possible changes to encourage increased housing and decreased non-residential uses in the area and provided further guidance to staff as part of the Update on the Use Standards and Table project. The July 25, 2019 Planning Board recommendation and video from Planning Board meeting may be found online at: https://bouldercolorado.gov/planning/previous-planning-board-decisions .
City Priorities and Plans
The following resources are intended to aid potential investor awareness of the community's priorities and applicable zoning, as well as provide context for the greater community.
- Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan
- Census Tract 122.03 Current Zoning Map
- Transportation Master Plan
- Boulder County Regional Housing Strategy
- Transit Village Area Plan
Additional resources that will be posted in the future include:
- Local Opportunity Zone FAQ
- Additional Overlay Maps/Links
- The Boulder Citywide Retail Study
Opportunity Zone Communication
- City Council Memo on Boulder's Opportunity Zone: Dec. 18, 2018
- Hotline Update on Opportunity Zone Participation: Nov. 29, 2018
- Heads Up to City Council: Oct. 5, 2018 - Opportunity Zone Updates and Clarification
- Heads Up to City Council: March 30, 2018 - Area in Boulder nominated as Opportunity Zone
- Opportunity Zone Emails
For more information on the federal Opportunity Zones program, contact Yvette Bowden, director of Community Vitality and Parks and Recreation at [email protected] or 303-413-7215.
For more information on land use, zoning and regulatory matters, contact Charles Ferro, development review manager, Planning Department, at [email protected] or 303-441-4012.