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Citywide Retail Study


Project Overview

In the most recent update to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan community members called for two retail-related goals:

  1. Supporting a vital retail base
  2. Maintaining affordable retail space

The 2018 budget funded a comprehensive Citywide Retail Study that will inform a strategy for how to pursue the retail-related BVCP goals.

Staff met with City Council in a July 2018 study session to begin to outline key questions for the study to reflect the city’s core values , namely:

  1. Welcoming and Inclusive . Can Boulder residents at all income levels and from a variety of backgrounds meet their basic needs for goods and services within the city?
  2. Sustainable . What key factors affect the ability of small and independent retailers to remain in Boulder? How do Boulder retailers perform compared to neighboring communities and peer communities nationwide? Can we provide more shopping opportunities throughout the city to meet the needs of Boulder’s daytime population?
  3. Environmental Stewardship . Which of the city’s retail areas are accessible by public transit, and pedestrian and bike access? Which areas of the city would benefit from the addition of walkable retail? What environmentally sustainable practices are already required of retailers in Boulder?
  4. Sense of Place . What place-making traits do community members seek in shopping areas? Are there opportunities to bring more community events to shopping areas throughout the city?

In addition to pursuing the goals of the BVCP and the city’s core values, the study builds upon the findings of the Downtown Boulder Retail/Vibrancy Study completed in March 2018. The study findings are intended to support updates to the city’s Subcommunity and Area Plans and Transportation Master Plan.

Project Timeline

The study is in three phases: study design, data collection, and analysis; benchmarking Boulder’s retail performance to its neighboring and peer communities; recommendations and final report.

  • July to Oct. 2018 : project scoping and preparation of a Request for Proposals (RFP) to engage a retail planning consultant and survey firm
  • Nov. 2018 to Jan. 2019 : consultant selection and finalizing the scope of work
  • Feb. to March 2019 : study design and data collection
  • April to May 2019 : data analysis and recommendations
  • May to June 2019 : final report

The City of Boulder wants to know whether the goods and services available in Boulder meet the needs of its residents and workers of all ages, incomes, backgrounds and areas of the city. Community members were invited to participate in a questionnaire as part of the larger, in-depth study of the current Boulder retail environment that responds to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan goal of a vital retail base. Additionally, staff reached out to retail business operators for a separate retailer questionnaire. The shopper questionnaire received almost 900 responses, and the retailer questionnaire received close to 60 responses. The information collected, as well as other analysis conducted in the preliminary data gathering phase, was shared with the public as part of a  presentation to City Council on May 21, 2019.

Public outreach in the data collection phase included:

  • Mailer to 6,000 randomized Boulder households
  • Postcards distributed at public libraries, recreation centers, senior centers, the Municipal Building, and at various locations throughout the city
  • Promotion at the What's Up Boulder city open house on April 4, 2019, through an "Inside Boulder News" feature, and on the city's social media platforms
  • In-person interviews at Boulder Housing Partners, Emergency Family Assistance Association, and through the city's Community Connectors
  • In-person engagement at more than 100 Boulder retailers throughout the city
  • Engagement to reach employee populations through community partners such as the Boulder Chamber, Downtown Boulder Partnership, The Hill Boulder, University of Colorado, Boulder County
  • Youth engagement through the city's Youth Opportunities Advisory Board, and Families and Educators Together 

July 2018 – Council Study Session on a draft Problem Statement and Focus Areas   pdf

August 2018 – Council Information Packet on a draft Scope of Work   pdf

• May 2019 – Council Mid-Project Update with Preliminary Findings and Early Themes

 • Third Quarter 2019 – Council Final Study Report  

Related Videos 

Contact Info

For further information, contact Yvette Bowden, director, Community Vitality Department, [email protected], 303-413-7215.