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
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.