A factory for affordable houses at 6500 East Arapahoe

At its November 17 meeting, Boulder City Council will consider annexation of the Boulder Valley School District campus at 6500 Arapahoe Rd. While the campus will not include housing, it is proposed to include a modular housing factory that could construct homes for use at Ponderosa Mobile Home Park and perhaps other locations.

The BVSD campus currently receives city water and sewer service, but the district is seeking annexation in order to expand that service for a recently-constructed central kitchen and the proposed modular housing factory. Some neighbors of the BVSD campus have expressed opposition to the annexation, fearing noise and additional activity at the site.

Ponderosa residents participated in the creation of the site plan (left) with the final version shown (right).

According to information provided by the city, “A modular home is a prefabricated building fully built and finished in a factory and then delivered to the intended site. The modules can be either a single unit or placed side-by-side, end-to-end, or stacked, allowing for a variety of configurations and styles.”

Modular construction is seen as a way to reduce construction cost and improve quality. A modular home factory has begun operating in Buena Vista, but how successful it will be is yet to be seen. As a profit-making enterprise, the industry is full of eternal promise but repeated failure. The proposed Boulder factory would be a joint effort of BVSD, the city, and Flatirons Habitat for Humanity, and not intended to make a profit. It would also benefit from low-cost and volunteer labor.

The factory is expected to produce up to 73 homes for Ponderosa, at the rate of 12-15 per year. It’s unclear where its output would go after the Ponderosa demand is met. Because of their small size and potential for consistent design, accessory dwelling units – which Boulder is aiming to allow more of – may be a good choice for modular construction.

Call to Action. Because of the neighborhood opposition, approval of the annexation and the modular factory is not a given. Boulder Housing Network encourages readers to contact City Council to support the factory, or to speak at the Thursday, November 17 public hearing on the annexation. You can email Ms. Shabnam Bista, Senior Planner, with your comments for Council at BistaS@bouldercolorado.gov. Or you can speak at the public hearing on Thursday by registering here no later than 2:00 PM the day prior to the meeting. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and follow the links to “Speak During a Public Hearing.” The public hearing on this matter will likely begin at about 7:15 PM.

Share this post