In December of 2016 a team of designers and developers volunteered their time for a technical advisory panel. The goal of this panel, the Urban Land Institute Colorado (ULI Colorado) was to design a redevelopment plan for the area of East Boulder north of Arapahoe and west of 55th. This 325 acre space is primarily used as an office park with some small industrial sites as well. The panel was tasked by the Boulder Chamber and Boulder Area Realtor Association with seeing how this space could be used for more workforce housing. The panel took this request a step further. They addressed a complete overhaul of the area, rather than just focusing on housing. Their vision of this new hub of creativity would be called East Edge. Linked with new transportation options, East Edge would be broken into three districts that mix residential and commercial use. Existing business would continue being supported and add new ones as well. The idea being that each of the businesses within each district would be within walking distance. This more ambitious and extreme plan is not what many current residents had in mind. A large scale expansion is seen by many as inconsistent their own vision for their neighborhood. However, there are some potential benefits in this plan worth considering which may influence public opinion.
This panel envisions East Edge as a “creativity hub”. ULI Colorado hopes to encourage the growth of new jobs here as well as housing, services, and transportation growth. . They envision transition from an office park to a more multi-use neighborhood.
One challenge to East Edge’s redevelopment plan is in zoning. The panel suggests that the city allow them to go beyond the current 55ft height limit in place (up to 90ft in some areas). This would allow for residential and retail services in the same space. Additionally, office buildings could have shops on the ground level. Because of the area’s low ground level relative to the rest of Boulder the panel believes the view shed would not be harmed.
Another concern ULI Colorado has for East Edge, and all potential development plans, is flooding. The entire area is located within a floodplain, and said to be in need of mitigation. The panel suggests that the Flatiron Golf course be used for mitigation before moving forward.
The top priority of the East Edge plan is to begin by redeveloping the land between Arapahoe and the BNSF rail corridor. This land would become one of the mixed-use neighborhoods for residential and commercial space with an interior main street. This would have the advantage of much safer pedestrian and bike traffic. But this is just one of many steps and details outlined for East Edge. The entire plan is available for all citizens to see on the better boulder website, and are encouraged to do so.