Project Overview

The University of Colorado – Boulder and hotel developer and operator The Little Nell Hotel Group are constructing the Limelight Hotel Boulder. The hotel and conference center will have 250 rooms and 25,000 square feet of conference/meeting space at the northeast corner of Broadway and University Avenue. It will be a destination for high-profile events and experiences linking the university, research, business and nonprofit communities in Boulder. A separate hotel currently under construction at the southwest corner of the intersection, which is unaffiliated.

This is a University of Colorado - Boulder project, not a City of Boulder led project. Please see the Boulder Conference Center and Hotel website for further information.

Project Background

The university has been planning for a facility of this type since 2001. It began scoping a conference center in the 1990s, looking at locations at various points around the central campus. City and downtown leaders at the time encouraged a location near the downtown and The Hill, because of the anticipated synergy of service amenities for conference attendees and customers for businesses.


Construction of the hotel/conference center began in early 2023 and is expected to last about 18 to 24 months. They are currently projecting an opening in spring 2025.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan contemplates urban development and re-development at this site, though CU, like other public universities in the state, is a legal subdivision of the State of Colorado and therefore not subject to local zoning or building codes. The site has immediate access to adequate infrastructure, including water and sewer, multi-modal transportation and electricity.

As a subdivision of the state, construction of CU facilities is overseen by the Office of the State Architect, which has delegated this authority to CU. The State is responsible for reviewing building and construction plans and for making inspections throughout the construction phase. The City of Boulder, however, as utility provider, does have the right and responsibility to review the street construction and utility plans, to ensure conformance with adopted city standards. City staff have been reviewing these plans since their initial submittal in June 2022. That review has been iterative, and CU/Little Nell made revisions and corrections multiple times throughout the remainder of 2022, as is typical with construction proposals. The street and utility plans were approved by the city on Jan. 9, 2023

The conference center hotel and associated parking garage have entry points that allow for dispersed traffic patterns, with access from all points and utilizing entries from University Avenue, Broadway, Grandview Avenue and the CU-owned 13th Street. CU/Little Nell was required to submit a traffic study in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) access permit for the Grandview/Broadway intersection. Safety is an overarching purpose behind the city’s adopted technical specifications. The analysis was reviewed by city transportation planners and engineers for adherence to city standards and requirements, including multimodal safety. As with all site designs, there are off-setting consequences to various alternatives, which were studied extensively. The final design includes physical and signage elements to effectively manage the new multimodal transportation activity projected for the area.

As they currently do, pedestrians and cyclists traveling along Broadway will use the multimodal paths on the east side of Broadway. These will be modified to increase safety crossing features at Broadway and Grandview. Pedestrians and cyclists wanting to cross to/from the site to the university campus will continue to be able to do so at the University and Broadway intersection and the designated crossing at 15th Street. CU is independently contracting with a transportation consultant, Toole Design Group, to explore the possibility of an additional pedestrian/bike route that could compliment the approved and existing route along Broadway.

There is existing infrastructure of streets, bus routes, bike/pedestrian lanes and dedicated paths that connect The Hill, downtown and the university campus, including at the planned hotel site. This basic network has been in place since the earliest establishment of the university, and it has been steadily improved over the decades with below-grade crossings, bridge improvements, lanes and paths. As activity around The Hill, downtown and surrounding communities continues, there are likely to be future land use and sub-community planning efforts, though none are currently scheduled. Various stakeholders, including the city, CU and organizations at the Hill and Downtown have acknowledged and committed their involvement in any future planning processes.

In the 1990s, neighborhood businesses and city leaders recognized the potential for economic stabilization and growth on The Hill, downtown and surrounding areas. This resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the university in 2001 that was subsequently added to and amended in 2011, 2016 and 2020. The MOU outlines the practical commitments regarding utilities and state review, as well a commitment from CU for sensitive development in the neighborhood and the city’s acknowledgement of CU’s independent status as a subdivision of the state. CU also committed to building a larger conference ballroom at the request of the city. The city will reimburse a portion of the lodging tax to partially fund this expanded space; as a further benefit, the terms require support for the use of the conference space by community groups and nonprofits.

The multi-use path was temporarily rerouted in the spring of 2023. This will allow contractor crews and equipment to have adequate space for construction while continuing to provide community members with multi-use path access. Later in the fall, the path will return to its normal alignment along Broadway while the rest of the site is constructed. For a map, travel impacts and up-to-date construction information, visit the project website.