Alpine-Balsam Area Plan
The Alpine-Balsam Area Plan, adopted by City Council on Oct. 1, 2019, offers an opportunity to further the city's access, mobility, sustainability and climate goals. The plan is intended for use by the public, business and property owners, the city and community partners. The plan is a guide for the area's future and will inform decisions about private development, public facilities and services in the area. It balances many factors and strikes a compromise on density and use to ensure the area remains a lively neighborhood center. The plan includes:
- Land use changes for city-owned properties, including renovation of the medical pavilion at the corner of Alpine and Broadway for a new city services center
- A mix of permanently affordable and market rate multi-family housing
- Improvements for all modes of transportation to make travel around the area safer, more pleasant and easier, especially for walkers and bikers
- A flood mitigation approach along the northern side of the city's site that will convey flood waters during storms. The approach will double as a landscaped greenway
- Criteria for further exploring the viability of Boulder County services moving to Alpine-Balsam
View the final Alpine-Balsam Area Plan
Implementation Next Steps
Work on city-owned sites will begin immediately and last several years. In 2020, this includes:
- The viability for Boulder County to relocate services from their campus at Iris and Broadway to Alpine-Balsam was evaluated by a joint City-County Working Group. Read the final Working Group recommendation
- Deconstruction of the former Pavilion and Boulder Community Health buildings
- Land use and zoning updates for city-owned properties
- Redevelopment of city-owned land for a mix of civic services and housing
A long-term view or implementation next steps:
The working group process has been completed. After a parking analysis was conducted, it was determined that Alpine-Balsam is not able to accommodate the county's parking needs. The working group's final recommendation is that the county remove Alpine-Balsam from its list of potential future locations. The county is now in the process of evaluating other options, including relocating its services from Iris and Broadway, or redeveloping its current campus.
Read the final Working Group communique and recommendation
- Tuesday, Jan. 7: View the meeting materials
Wednesday, Dec. 11:View the meeting materials , parking analysis presentation and meeting notes
- Tuesday, Nov. 19: View the meeting materials and meeting notes
- Tuesday, Oct. 29: View the Oct. 29 agenda and meeting notes
The process to determine if Boulder County can and chooses to be co-located at Alpine-Balsam was informed by a joint working group of two Boulder City Council members, a county commissioner and staff. The group clarified the process and decision-making to assess the feasibility of relocating county facilities to Alpine-Balsam, including analysis to understand if the criteria identified in Chapter 2 of the Area Plan could be met.
- View the Working Group draft charter
The Alpine-Balsam Area Plan provides guidance for future development of the site and surrounding area. The Area Plan process took place from spring 2018 through fall 2019 and included a range of community engagement events to help shape the final plan.
The Area Plan process was guided by the Alpine-Balsam Vision Plan and provided greater detail on the desired character and scale, land uses and location of streets, paths, parking, public spaces and public buildings. The Area Plan addresses the economic and financial viability of development options to ensure the site development is feasible and will contribute to the city’s vision.
Area plans bridge the gap between the broad community goals established in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and the detailed city review of individual development projects and capital improvements decisions.
Area plans help develop common understanding of the desired future development of an area including expected changes, desired characteristics, and achievable implementation methods. The Area Plan will be guided by the Alpine-Balsam Vision Plan but will provide a greater level of detail on desired character and scale, land uses, and the location of streets, paths, parking, public spaces and public facilities . The area plan will also address the economic and financial viability of the development options to ensure the site development is feasible and will contribute to the city’s prosperity.
From fall 2016 through spring 2017, the city worked with the community to develop a Vision Plan for the city-purchased site, also known as Alpine-Balsam. The Alpine-Balsam Vision Plan is intended to guide the transformation of the site; it identifies the desired future for Alpine-Balsam and its surroundings, with Guiding Principles to inform future planning and development.
The Vision Plan process explored the potential of the site and asked about the community’s hopes, concerns and vision for the future of Alpine-Balsam. Residents participated in a variety of community engagement activities that included community workshops, an open house, pop-up events, and various opportunities for online input. Through this outreach, it was clear that Alpine-Balsam is a thriving neighborhood described as having many of the conveniences of city life within walking distance including shops, restaurants, medical services, a neighborhood school, and the North Boulder Park for recreation. However, with the closing of the hospital, some have expressed concern about the loss of activity. The input gathered throughout the Vision Plan process helped to generate a vision the “Alpine-Balsam will be a vibrant multi-generational hub for community life and local government services—a welcoming and inclusive new model for equitable, affordable, and sustainable living.”
The Vision Plan was a first step in the planning process for Alpine-Balsam, and will be followed by more detailed Area Plan process. The Area Plan process will take place from Spring 2018 through mid-2019, and will include a range of community engagement events to help shape the final plan.
On June 6, 2017, Boulder City Council accepted the Vision Plan and guiding principles to inform future planning and development. Each guiding principle is further supported by strategies that identify “what” will be addressed and performance criteria that identify “how” the principles will be supported. Community input helped form the backbone for each of these components in the Vision Plan.
Guiding Principle No.1: Respect the Site's Physical Environment
Guiding Principle No.2: Create a Vibrant Place for Community Gathering
Guiding Principle No.3: Capture Synergies with Mixed-Use
Guiding Principle No.4: Serve as a Model for Equity, Affordability and Sustainability
Guiding Principle No.5: Innovate Planning, Design and Delivery Processes
In December 2015, the City of Boulder purchased 8.8-acres of property from Boulder Community Health. The properties include the entire hospital campus site at 1100 Balsam Ave. (the corner of Balsam Avenue and Broadway), as well as two properties on Alpine Avenue and two small properties on North Street.
Key communications and engagement objectives for the Area Plan:
- Clearly communicate the timeline and opportunities for meaningful engagements through easy-to-find information.
- Provide transparency throughout the process using clear processes and feedback loops.
- Create inclusively though the process with diverse participation.
- Develop an innovative process that is creative and fun.
Through open houses, workshops, tours and online, community members have shared their vision and preferred outcomes for the Alpine-Balsam Area Plan through four phases of community engagement:
- Phase 1 Engagement Summary
- Phase 2: Engagement Summary
- Phase 3 Engagement Summary
- Phase 4 Engagement Summary
June - September 2019: Emails & Engagement Summary
- Community Emails June 2019
- Community Emails August 1-15, 2019
- Community Emails August 16-31, 2019
- Community Emails September 2019
June – September 2019: Preferred Design & Draft Plan (Phase IV)
Solicit feedback from community members, advisory boards, and City Council on draft area plan. Click here for full summary of Phase 4: Community Feedback .
June - July 2019: Open Houses and Walking Tours (Phase IV)
Staff hosted a series of open houses, two walking tours and an online feedback from on BeheardBoulder.org.
January – July 2019: Preferred Design & Draft Plan (Phase III)
Select the preferred option and develop a draft of the area plan. The final area plan will be adopted at the end of Phase 3. Click here for full summary of Phase 3: Community Feedback .
January - February 2019: Emails & Engagement Summary
- Community Emails Jan. 2019
- Letter to City Council Jan. 8, 2019
- Community Emails Feb. 2019
- Learn what the city heard from the community this past winter/spring regarding the area plan in this summary document and this Be Heard Boulder questionnaire report.
January – February 2019: Community Workshops (Phase III)
- Phase 3 Engagement Summary
- Jan. 24 Tables One and Two Feedback
- Jan. 23 Table One Feedback
- Jan. 23 Table Two Feedback
- Jan. 24 Tables One and Two Feedback
- Jan. 29 Tables One, Two and Three Feedback
- Feb. 2 Tables One, Two and Three Feedback
- Feb. 4 Tables One, Two and Three Feedback
- Feb. 5 Tables One, Two and Three Feedback
- Feb. 13 Tables One, Two, Three and Four Feedback
- Feb. 19 Tables One and Two Feedback
October - December 2018: Refined Designs (Oct. - Dec. 2018)
Develop conceptual alternatives that further assess the physical, economic and financial realities of each site. These include realistic building footprints, 3D sketch models, street sections and more specific types of uses. Click here for full summary of Phase 2: Engagement Summary
March to August 2018: Initial Engagement (Phase I)
December 2017: Staff Chat at Vic's Coffee and North Boulder Rec
The Alpine-Balsam team met with community members to discuss what will be happening in the next phase of Alpine-Balsam's redevelopment and to hear thoughts, feedback and questions from the community.
October - November 2017: Alpine- Balsam Engagement Questionnaire
Over 200 members of the community responded to a questionnaire on how they would like to be engaged in this project. Results are available here and will inform a draft community engagement plan for this project.
Jan. 18, 2017: Community Workshop
At this community workshop, participants brainstormed how the site might be redeveloped through hands-on activities. They considered questions like: What’s the right mix of uses for the Alpine-Balsam site? How much affordable housing, green space, retail space or other uses should be there? Where should city facilities be located?
September - October 2016: Pop-Up Events: Pop-Up Events were created to share the Alpine-Balsam Visioning effort with both the surrounding neighborhoods and the broader community. The Pop-Up Events were designed to intercept folks in various locations to provide project information and gather input into the early phases of the work, including visioning, neighborhood values and civic uses.
Spring - Summer 2016: Storytelling: In the spring and summer of 2016, members of the community shared memories, hopes, history, and ideas to capture the history and character of areas surrounding the BCH-Broadway campus.
Sept. 8. 2016: Community Visioning: The Community Visioning Workshop included multiple activities for community members to share ideas, insights, and perspectives.
- The Alpine-Balsam Existing Conditions Report builds off previous analysis done during the Vision Plan, as well as other documents such as the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and Central Broadway Corridor Design Framework.
- Traffic Impacts FAQ
- Traffic Impact Study Report
- Access and Parking FAQ
- Housing FAQ
- Flood Mitigation Study Summary
- Alpine-Balsam Market Profile
Aug, 27, 2019: Alpine-Balsam Area Plan memo - August 27, 2019 meeting
August 2019: Alpine-Balsam Draft Area Plan - August 2019
July 2019: The July 2019 open house boards and Key Topics Booklet provide information on housing, the neighborhood, access and mobility, flood mitigation and more. This information has been refined in the draft plan.
May 16, 2019: City Council Special Meeting: council directed staff to continue with the deconstruction of the hospital and to move forward with the area plan. You can watch the meeting.
Nov. 13, 2018: City Council Study Session on Area Plan Scenarios: City staff shared scenarios for the Alpine-Balsam site and provided information on the hospital deconstruction process.
Oct. 25, 2018: Joint Board Session: City staff shared scenarios for the Alpine-Balsam site at a joint board meeting.
Jan. 9, 2018: City Council Study Session: Area planning for the Alpine-Balsam site (and nearby surrounding areas), the potential reuse of the existing Medical Pavilion on the Alpine-Balsam site, and the financing and partnership analysis and strategy that will be developed in coordination with the planning efforts.
Aug. 22, 2017: City Council Study Session: 2015 Boulder Valley Comprehensive (BVCP) Implementation: Action Plan including Discussion of Building Height (up to City Charter 55-foot limit), Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), and Subcommunity and Area Planning for Alpine-Balsam
Jun. 6, 2017: City Council Agenda Item: Acceptance of the Central Broadway Corridor Design Framework and Alpine-Balsam Vision Plan
May 2, 2017: City Council Agenda Item: Central Broadway Corridor Design Framework and the Alpine-Balsam Vision Plan
Feb. 28, 2017: City Council Study Session: Central Broadway Corridor Design Framework, Alpine-Balsam Project, Reuse of the Medical Office Pavilion, and City Facilities Assessment
Nov. 15, 2016: City Council Agenda Item: Update and Council Input on Central Boulder Planning Projects: Alpine-Balsam, Civic Area, and City Facilities Assessment
Why did the City of Boulder purchase the Alpine Balsam site?
The city purchased the site for several reasons. First, the site is important to the community and a rare opportunity to help ensure that future redevelopment fits the community’s vision and goals. In addition, the site offers a key opportunity to create a consolidated customer service center that will co-locate key city services, improving access and better serving the community.
Which properties are included in the purchase?
Altogether, the properties represent approximately 8.8 acres of land area; over 355,000 square feet of existing building space; and a four-story parking structure as well as large surface parking areas. The properties include the hospital building and other nearby structures. A total of five of the property sites are involved in the sale. By address, these sites include 1155 Alpine Ave., 2655 Broadway St., 1136 Alpine Ave., 1125 North St. and 1135 North St. The buildings continue to house medical uses and related activities, although overall utilization of the property has been reduced since BCH relocated its emergency room and acute care functions to its Foothills campus location.
What is an area plan?
Area plans allow for developing a common understanding of the expected changes, defining desired characteristics that should be preserved or enhanced and identifying achievable implementation methods. Area plans provide a link between the broad policies of the comprehensive plan and more detailed zoning, development review and capital improvement programming decisions. The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan provides further information on area plans
What does the area plan process look like?
The area plan process will integrate detailed technical analysis with community dialogue to explore options and then select the plan that best balances what is feasible with what the community desires. There will be many opportunities for community participation throughout the project. The 3 phases, to be completed by mid- 2019, are:
Phase 1 – Develop feasible urban design frameworks that address the project goals. These generally include urban form, public realm and parks, connectivity, and land use.
Phase 2 – Develop conceptual alternatives that further assess the physical, economic and financial realities of each site. These include realistic building footprints, 3D sketch models, street sections and more specific types of uses.
Phase 3- Select the preferred option and develop a draft of the area plan. The final area plan will be adopted at the end of Phase 3.
What are the goals of this project?
The goals for the Alpine-Balsam Area Plan are based on the goals and principles established in the Alpine-Balsam Vision Plan and include:
A. Create vibrant, beautiful spaces for community life, with a mix of uses, that respect the physical environment and enhance the neighborhood.
B. Provide a welcoming and accessible centralized hub for city services, which is also flexible and can adapt to support a variety of community uses.
C. Create diverse and affordable housing.
D. Implement a comprehensive multi-modal access and parking strategy that provides safe and convenient connections to, from, and within the area.
E. Integrate environmentally sustainable strategies into the layout and function of the public realm and built environment.
F. Create a place that reflects input from all interested city residents, property and business owners, as well as future residents and visitors.
G. Create an Area Plan that balances city and community needs with physical, economic and financial feasibility to ensure responsible use of community resources.
What uses are being considered for the site?
The Alpine-Balsam Vision Plan identified a range of possible uses for the site primarily focusing on a city service center and housing with the possibility of retail and/or commercial uses. An economic study is now underway to determine market viability of different housing types and non-residential uses and will inform options. The area plan process will help identify the final mix and balance of uses.
Why are city facilities included in the redevelopment of the Alpine-Balsam site? Is there a benefit to residents and customers?
Currently, city services are distributed across the community, at several different sites, and in both leased and owned facilities. The dispersed approach presents a challenge for the community to access the city services especially when the customer has multiple business transactions and may need to visit two or more separate locations. Additionally, the distribution of services does not maximize the efficiencies and cost-effectiveness of city facility operations and maintenance. New and/or renovated buildings could advance achievements toward climate goals for city facilities, be models of sustainability and energy efficiency, enable more efficient operation and maintenance of facilities and relieve major maintenance backlog projects in buildings slated for consolidation.
The Alpine-Balsam site is envisioned as a centralized customer service hub, a place to conduct daily business with the city. Centralizing city services at Alpine-Balsam also helps achieve goals identified in the Civic Area Masterplan to deconstruct Park Central and New Britain, two buildings located in the high hazard floodplain. Other city services focusing on civic engagement will be located in the Civic Area, which is less than 1 mile from the Alpine-Balsam site. This provides an opportunity to consolidate city services between two locations near each other.
How will impacts on adjacent neighborhoods and uses be taken into consideration?
The plan will assess and address all the factors that generally concern nearby neighbors, such as traffic, transportation and parking, aesthetics, height of buildings and transitions, views and compatibility of uses. Area plans also can result in long-term benefits to nearby properties and neighborhoods (e.g., public spaces, desired services, better connections).
Will the Boulder County facilities at Iris and Broadway move to the Alpine-Balsam site?
Some of the facilities could move, but it is premature to say if they will. The possibility of relocating some of the county facilities on the Alpine-Balsam site is being analyzed along with other use options during the area plan process.
How do floodplain regulations affect the area and what can be built?
A portion of the site is within the 100-year floodplain. This will impact numerous aspects of future design including:
Design: in certain location, five feet of floodproofing is required, which may have impacts on the visual character of the area and activation of the ground floor
Buildings: All new structures will be required to meet or exceed the city’s existing flood standards
Flood mitigation measures for Upper Goose Creek are being considered as part of this process and will inform the Goose Creek Flood Mitigation Plan.
Will future development on this site go over the city's 55' height limit?
No. All development will meet adopted regulations and codes.
How do we pay for this?
The city is incorporating this question into the area plan process to understand the future development’s feasibility – economically and financially. As we explore uses with the community for the area, we’ll also explore the economic factors that impact the uses and the financial mechanisms available to implement them.
There are multiple ways to finance uses (such as housing, retail, office space, etc.) and elements (public features, infrastructure, etc.) that may be identified in the area plan. Throughout the process, we’ll learn more about what works best for Boulder and the community. In general, common types of financing includes:
* Public-private partnerships
* Sale of portions of city-owned parcels on the site
* Other city resources
* New tax
* Other financial mechanisms
The financing examples mentioned here may not ultimately work for funding these projects or it may require a combination of these and others to accomplish the projects. The process to determine what will work includes an evaluation of the surrounding market and economic conditions, financial projections of proposed uses, and engagement with the community, city boards, and City Council. The goal is to create an area plan that is financially viable to implement achieving a combination of the following objectives:
* Establish a structure that recoups the city’s current or future investment in land, infrastructure, city facilities or other city investments
* Establish ways to make a return that reinvests in community benefits
* Explores partnership opportunities
As the area plan development progresses, we will provide more information to the community regarding economic and financial analysis and strategy.
Review responses to additional questions from the community on Be Heard Boulder