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Hill Hotel Project

Hill Hotel Project

In June 2020, the Boulder City Council (as the University Hill General Improvement District board of directors) approved a purchase offer for the UHGID-owned Pleasant Street parking lot for the purpose of constructing a hotel and related commercial uses to support the city's Hill Reinvestment Strategy goals. The purchaser is now in the Site Review approval process with construction anticipated to begin in fall 2021 and the hotel opening anticipated in 2023.
 

The land sale will not be finalized until the project receives Site Review approval from the ​City of Boulder Planning Board (for upcoming Planning Board agendas, please visit:  https://bouldercolorado.gov/boards-commissions/planning-board ).

As a condition of the land sale, the Boulder City Council (as the board of directors of UHGID) will require that the buyer:
 
o Provide $200,000 to support the relocation of businesses on the project site (a city staff member is actively working with each business to find locations in Boulder, including filling the 10+ vacancies in the historic core of the University Hill commercial area)
o Fund a transportation demand management (TDM) program for visitors and employees of the hotel to reduce parking needs
o Provide ongoing training and employment opportunities for CU students
o Design the building to be architecturally compatible with the site context and CU

The project concept received formal support from The Hill Boulder merchants association, the University Hill Neighborhood Association, and the University Hill Commercial Area Management Commission. The University Hill Reinvestment Strategy (HRS) initiated in 2014 includes the goal of attracting a ‘catalytic use’ such as a small-scale hotel to bring customers to Hill businesses when student customers are away. For more information about the strategy, please visit: https://bouldercolorado.gov/commercial-districts/hill-reinvestment-strategy.
 

District Vitality

The city and the  University Hill General Improvement District (UHGID) are considering a public-private partnership to attract an anchor use to the Hill for the purpose of diversifying the district’s customer base and potentially increasing its year-round business vitality. The opportunity was recommended as one of four key steps to achieving sustained district vitality in a 2015 study , which also identified the UHGID-owned Pleasant Street public parking lot as a ‘catalyst site’ to attract an anchor use.

The considered concept leverages the Pleasant Street lot southwest of University Avenue and Broadway to enable the construction of an approximately 200-room hotel and 7,000 square feet of commercial space. The hotel is anticipated to bring an additional 200 customers per day to the area, supporting existing small and independent businesses, as well as providing amenities for the neighborhood and visitors within walking distance of the university campus and other destinations. In addition to the Pleasant Street parking lot, the proposed project site includes the University Hill Plaza shopping center and two adjacent commercial parcels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced Engagement and Tenant Support

As part of the concept refinements, the partnership has engaged translators to improve regular communications with the 15 businesses operating on the site and it has met with students to understand the benefits they hope to see from the project. The hotel operator has committed to creating student employment opportunities in the future hotel use. 

To support the existing businesses on the site, the developer has committed to creating a fund to assist eligible tenants with the cost of relocation into vacant spaces on the Hill or elsewhere within the City of Boulder. City staff has contacted all of the tenants to determine their business and relocation needs to provide some level of relocation planning assistance if and when the project is approved.

UHGID Parking and Access Improvements

In December 2018, the University Hill Commercial Area Management Commission (UHCAMC) voted unanimously to recommend that council consider selling the Pleasant Street lot for $3M rather than lease it to the developers for the project site land assemblage.

The preliminary findings of a November 2018 parking study suggest that the Pleasant Street lot is not well-utilized by district customers and that it primarily serves district employees. In the near term, plans are being coordinated with CU to ensure that existing employee permit holders have access to alternative parking if the project is approved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 2017 EcoPass utilization report found that the introduction in 2016 of a free bus pass for all full-time, non-student employees located within UHGID reduced daily employee parking demand by 20 percent. The November 2018 parking study found that demand for employee parking permits is currently approximately 80 spaces.

The UHCAMC recommendation included the suggestion that City Council dedicate the $3M from selling the Pleasant Street lot toward constructing an above-ground parking structure on the UHGID-owned 14 th Street parking lot in the south end of the district. It is anticipated that a structured parking lot in that location could accommodate 100-150 spaces. This would introduce employee parking permits at the south end of the district and increase the amount of public parking in a location that is well-utilized by district customers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Financing

The current proposal suggests no public financing. The developer is requesting to purchase the Pleasant Street parking lot owned by UHGID at fair market value, which has been determined by a third party appraisal. The land and construction costs for the project would be financed privately. Such a project, if it proceeds, would complete all applicable review and permitting requirements.

Council Action