The Citywide Retail Project was initiated in 2018 to pursue the retail-related goals of the most recent update to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) and to expand upon the 2018 Downtown Retail/Vibrancy Study by examining Boulder’s retail base citywide. The project’s first phase was a three-part study of Boulder’s retail base; its regional retail industry performance; and input from Boulder retailers and shoppers. A preliminary update on the study was presented for discussion at a City Council study session on May 21, 2019 and the final findings of the Citywide Retail Study were presented to City Council on July 9, 2019 for a discussion of their primary objectives for a citywide retail strategy. The primary objectives for the strategy were determined to be:
- Address retailer challenges - the top priority should be to respond to retailer concerns with the ease and cost of permitting and licensing. Other top priorities are to reduce small business costs, and address talent retention challenges related to housing affordability and transportation/access.
- Respond to unmet shopper needs - expand walkable retail access through infrastructure, zoning and incentives. Respond to shopper requests for more affordable and inclusive retail.
- Continue to monitor Boulder’s retail base performance - keep an eye toward the impact of an evolving retail industry on Boulder’s sales tax revenues; understand whether Boulder’s currently strong “pull factor” in most retail categories is a recent phenomenon; and explore whether the study finding of declining food store sales is unique to Boulder or reflective of broader shifts in consumer behavior.
Using council’s primary objectives as a strategic framework, staff spent the next seven months engaging both internally across multiple city departments and externally with a diverse community of stakeholders. The City Council also requested that staff conduct additional analysis to support development of the strategy. The findings from the additional research was included in an Information Packet for the Jan. 21, 2020 Council Meeting.
The final Citywide Retail Strategy was presented to City Council in April 7, 2020, with a progress update on May 18, 2021. Staff intends to return to council in 2023 with an update of the data collected in the Citywide Retail Study.