1. Community Engagement

  2. Plan

  3. Design

  4. Implement

Project Overview

The Alpine-Balsam property, formerly the Boulder Community Health (BCH) hospital, was purchased by the City of Boulder in 2015. The strategic investment was motivated in part by the desire to shape the redevelopment of an area that has been focused around a major healthcare facility for decades, and in part to address the city’s decentralized service and office challenges by creating the Western City Campus. City Council’s adoption of the Alpine-Balsam Area Plan in 2019 confirms the vision for the property, for which the city is transitioning to the implementation phase.

Project Status

Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the Alpine-Balsam project is moving forward as a long-term community investment. The city is nearing completion on interior deconstruction of the Pavilion and main hospital buildings. The project team plans to start exterior deconstruction of the hospital building by the end of 2021. Simultaneously, the city is preparing for infrastructure improvements (in areas such as flood and energy), analyzing housing financing scenarios and will soon be starting the design of the Pavilion office building renovation and making zoning changes identified in the Area Plan.

The city hired a consultant in early 2021 to draft a Form Based Code for the city owned land for consideration by the community, Planning Board and City Council in the spring and summer of 2021. Our goal is to prepare as much of the site as possible to be ready for redevelopment when the hospital deconstruction is complete.

News and Updates

City Council approved the adoption of a new form-based code (FBC) approach for the city-owned properties at Alpine-Balsam to implement the land use and urban design elements of the adopted area plan. The purpose of a form-based code is to establish building form and design requirements for development on City owned land at Alpine-Balsam and implement the land use and urban design elements of the adopted area plan. A short overview of the FBC approach for Alpine-Balsam can be viewed here.

Community Engagement

The team provided an update on the project and overview of the draft FBC at a virtual community briefing on May 24. You can watch a video of that presentation here or view the presentation here.

The full discussion draft of the code changes can be viewed here.

View a summary of our Summer 2021 BeHeardBoulder questionnaire here.

2021 Priorities

Transitioning a former hospital site into a new vision of affordable housing and civic space will take many steps. Here are the key areas of focus for 2021:

  • Deconstruct the exterior of the main hospital building
  • Begin and complete the rezoning and form-based code (a tool to improve design outcomes and to create more predictability) development process
  • Design and complete federal permitting process for flood mitigation
  • Complete energy feasibility analysis and development investment recommendations
  • Begin to design the Western City Campus, including the Pavilion building renovation
  • Develop strategies to develop the housing portion of the site

These actions will prepare the site for redevelopment and support the Area Plan’s intent. Many of these projects are interrelated and require strategic sequencing, though staff’s focus is on creating efficiencies where possible.

Implementation Status

The Area Plan sets a solid foundation for the expectations of the site, and there remains planning and preparation efforts to make the connection between the Area Plan and physical construction projects. This includes programming the western city campus (including Pavilion renovation design) and planning for non-physical elements such as the access and mobility strategy; regulatory changes; and energy planning.

In addition, there are site preparation activities that allow for construction to occur in the future, such as flood mitigation engineering, right-of-way development, hospital deconstruction, and environmental testing.

The details below provide a summary of major projects and their key interrelations.

Completed

  • 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
  • Interior deconstruction of the former Pavilion to prepare for renovation
  • National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) environmental assessment required for federal affordable housing projects

Ongoing

  • Land use and zoning analysis for city-owned properties
  • Implementation of the access & mobility goals in the Area Plan
  • Evaluation of energy districting and creative approaches for the site
  • Interior and exterior deconstruction of the main Boulder Community Health hospital building (after completion of federal environmental assessment requirements)
  • Engineering and design of the flood mitigation greenway along Balsam
  • Programming and design of the Pavilion office building
  • Scenario testing and criteria development for the housing development

Timeline

  • Exterior Deconstruction (2021)
    Deconstruction of the exterior of the building and structure; temporary patching of exterior holes left to the Pavilion office building (if needed); soils remediation (if necessary); and site grading.

  • Interior Deconstruction (2020)
    Interior deconstruction continues to take place, as current emergency orders exclude city maintenance and construction projects. The city and its partners are committed to the safety of the community and their employees and will be following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on physical distancing and prevention.

  • Feedback on Draft Area Plan (June - Sept. 2019)
    Solicit feedback from community members, advisory boards, and City Council on draft area plan.

  • Preferred Design & Draft Plan (Jan. - July 2019)
    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.

  • 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.

  • Conceptual Designs (May-Sept. 2018)
    Developed feasible urban design frameworks that address the project goals. These generally include urban form, public realm and parks, connectivity, and land use.

Implementation Projects

Deconstruction

City Council approved the deconstruction of the main hospital building on May 16, 2019. The scope of the project includes deconstructing the entirety of the hospital building and deconstructing the interior of the Medical Office Pavilion making it ready for renovation as city office space. Currently, the city is working on interior deconstruction of the Pavilion building while awaiting completion of federal environmental assessment requirements for the hospital building.

For work related to this project, the city will look to minimize impacts to the local community.

The city is taking a sustainable approach to reuse and recycle as many materials as possible. This means that materials removed from buildings will be catalogued and stored for future use. So far, the city has counted:

  • 1,117 doors
  • 406 sinks
  • 236 toilets
  • 2,510 electrical wall plates
  • 916 electrical switch plates

Flood Mitigation

The Alpine-Balsam site and nearby areas are impacted by the 100-year floodplain, high-hazard and conveyance flood zones. The current approach to flood mitigation for the site is to reconfigure the 100-year floodplain to convey the water in a channel along Balsam Avenue. This will allow and be necessary for the affordable housing outcomes onsite, and to remove city services located in the Pavilion from the floodplain.

The city has hired a consulting firm to engineer the flood mitigation solution and facilitate the federal FEMA process (known as a Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) and Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) process) to redraw the floodplain map. The schedule for the engineering and federal process will be influenced by the consultant’s guidance, though it is anticipated that a CLOMR may be submitted toward the end of 2020. This will be the first opportunity to confirm if the mitigation solution is enough for FEMA’s needs, which then will allow the city to transition to mitigation construction.

City-County Working Group

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.

Regulatory Changes

The Area Plan calls for updates to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) land use map. These changes might be included in the 2020 Mid-Term Update to the BVCP (more info on the Mid-Term Update is in the Dec. 3, 2019 memo to council)

Staff are currently analyzing the appropriate zoning to achieve the direction provided in the Area Plan. To achieve the urban design goals in the Area Plan, other regulatory changes may be considered such as form-based code or designating certain blocks for mandatory design review or requiring site review. These tools will be considered as staff are analyzing zoning update needs.

Staff’s approach for implementing regulatory changes will be developed in 2020.

Access & Mobility

The Access and Mobility District approach identified in the Area Plan is focused on creating programs and structure to provide a range of mobility choices for future workers, residents and visitors to the area. It includes Transportation Demand Management (TDM) services, managed parking, and potentially the implementation of a General Improvement District (GID) at Alpine-Balsam.

bike parking Alpine Balsam plan

The city-owned site's GID, if implemented, will collect property taxes for management, maintenance and parking infrastructure and fund on-going TDM strategies and programs. As implementation progresses, the viability and interest of a separate district for TDM programs and services or including this together with parking management and maintenance will be determined.

The process to analyze a GID will occur in 2020 alongside creating a strategy to meet the Area Plan’s goals for parking and access. This information will be used to inform both the housing and office development.

Energy Strategy

The Area Plan includes goals, objectives and strategy related to energy and sustainability in alignment with the city’s Climate Commitment. The city recently hired engineering firm WSP to perform an energy feasibility analysis. The study will determine whether the site can be “net-zero,” producing as much energy on-site as it uses, while also delivering affordable energy solutions for the future site occupants.

The city has already accomplished energy goals on the Alpine-Balsam site. Renovation of the Brenton building was completed in 2018 and demonstrated early successes on the site by consolidating a fragmented department into one building and converting one of the city’s worst energy performing buildings into a now near net-zero energy consuming building. The intent is to use the practices and lessons from the Brenton building toward the Pavilion building reuse project.

Overall on the Alpine-Balsam site, all of the concrete structures are being repurposed and reused which represents more than 40% of the total existing building square footage on the site and represents the most embodied energy.

Additionally, the city is working to sustainably deconstruct the remaining steel structures on the site. These represent less embodied carbon, and it is anticipated that landfill diversion rates above 95% can be achieved. Staff is working to reuse building materials in creative ways on other municipal projects.

The city has a great opportunity as the sole, current property owner to incorporate energy efficient and sustainable practices into the physical and non-physical elements of the site. For example, practices such as green infrastructure, flood mitigation, healthy building practices, and other common development efforts can be planned for and implemented through the city’s development and passed on to housing partners for implementation. All development on the site will be designed to meet the City’s future 2030 net zero energy code objectives.

Western City Campus at Alpine-Balsam and Pavilion Design Phase

The consolidation and relocation of city facilities was a primary motivation during the purchase of Alpine-Balsam. The Brenton building was renovated in 2018 and now houses the Finance department which provides sales tax and licensing services to the community from this location among other services. The adjacent parking structure currently serves city staff and customers of the Brenton building but will also supply parking for the Pavilion as well in the future. The collection of buildings and structures will form the Western City Campus at Alpine-Balsam.

Western at Alpine Balsam

Through the Medical Office Pavilion Reuse Analysis, it was determined that the Pavilion, located at the corner of Alpine and Broadway, is well-suited for reuse for city facilities. The design process will begin in 2020, followed by site review and permitting, and it is anticipated that construction will begin in 2022, but is dependent on other infrastructure work, including flood mitigation.

Housing Development

As the owner of the hospital site, the city can have significant influence over the affordable housing outcomes. Staff expects to approach affordable housing implementation in a similar manner as the redevelopment of 30Pearl.

During this process variables such as the housing market, financing options and likely partnerships will start to inform the mix of rental and ownership units; zoning will influence the mix of housing types such as townhomes, small or larger stacked buildings. These outcomes will also be guided by the vision for housing in the Area Plan. This approach allows the market and affordable housing to be designed to complement each other and the surrounding neighborhood. Construction for the affordable and market-rate housing can be roughly concurrent, because a large portion of the local funding needed will be made available at the time of entitlement and construction through the market homes on the site.

Housing at Alpine Balsam

Staff’s first steps in 2020 will be to further the physical and financial testing that began in the Area Plan to understand feasibility and potential options that are available. Another key work item in the beginning stages of analysis will be to evaluate delivery options, though a master-development approach similar to other successful Boulder projects like the Holiday Neighborhood and Boulder Junction will likely be followed.

To be eligible for federal (Housing and Urban Development, “HUD”) funding for the future housing development, another critical step in 2020 is to complete an environmental assessment (EA), which is a requirement at the beginning of a redevelopment project that intends to use federal funding in the future. This assessment intersects with other environmental testing already performed or anticipated, such as soils and groundwater testing and hazardous materials abatement. Performing the EA now qualifies the city or its housing partner to apply and receive federal funds in the future.

Mural Project

As part of the city's plans to maintain the site, the city Office of Arts and Culture has commissioned several artists to paint murals on sections of the fence. The mural project is an opportunity to integrate art into the site during deconstruction, helping to enhance the visual profile of the project and providing an active space for community engagement. Artists selected for the mural project include:

Information about each artist is available by clicking their name. Learn more about the artist selection process and the city's Office of Arts and Culture by clicking here.

City Council Resources

Tuesday Jan. 21, 2020

Presentation to City Council on project implementation and an update on the City-County Working Group. View the meeting materials including the:

Newsletter

  • Sign-up for the Alpine-Balsam Area Plan and Site e-newsletter to receive project updates below.
  • Sign-up for the city’s planning e-newsletter to receive city-wide planning updates.

Past Editions

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 pedestrians and cyclists
  • A flood mitigation approach along the northern side of the city's site that will convey floodwaters during storms. The approach will double as a landscaped greenway
  • Criteria for further exploring the viability of Boulder County services moving to Alpine-Balsam from their current North Broadway campus

View the final Alpine-Balsam Area Plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

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:

  • Create vibrant, beautiful spaces for community life, with a mix of uses, that respect the physical environment and enhance the neighborhood.
  • Provide a welcoming and accessible centralized hub for city services, which is also flexible and can adapt to support a variety of community uses.
  • Create diverse and affordable housing.
  • Implement a comprehensive multi-modal access and parking strategy that provides safe and convenient connections to, from, and within the area.
  • Integrate environmentally sustainable strategies into the layout and function of the public realm and built environment.
  • Create a place that reflects input from all interested city residents, property and business owners, as well as future residents and visitors.
  • 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

News & Updates

Staff presented a short update to City Council during their Study Session on Jan. 26 about key 2021 implementation priorities, including hospital deconstruction, development of a Form Based Code and rezoning. View the memo from the Jan 26 City Council meeting

You can watch the presentation on Channel 8 or on the city’s website.