The proposed replacement of the aging Millenium Harvest hotel would add more than 900 beds of student housing within 300 housing units. The apartment complex, called “The Standard” will be presented to the City of Boulder Planning Board on June 20th, 2023.
The original Harvest House Hotel was completed in 1959, with additions in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. After additions, the hotel had 270 rooms. The original wing of the hotel is 5 stories, and the west wing has 4 stories. The site includes a significant area in the floodplain, including the high hazard and conveyance zones. Because of the floodplain constraints, the developer is requesting a waiver for the 35’ height maximum to allow a 4th story. Though the form of the apartment building will be completely different than the hotel, because of the floodplain restrictions the massing (height, location etc.) will be very similar. The 4th floors are stepped back on the south side to soften the overall mass that is presented to folks on the creek path.
The lot size of the hotel totals almost 16 acres, bridging Boulder Creek to the south and includes the existing tennis courts (which have been enclosed during the winter since 1979). On that portion south of the creek there is additional parking and a few small buildings.
The history of the site includes a fair bit of public social activity, including the (in)famous Friday Afternoon Club that began in the late 70s and was quite popular into the late 80s. It survived in a toned form into the early 2000s. While the the developer doesn’t have plans for organized social events, they have been working with the City of Boulder to redesign the Boulder Creek Path as it goes through the site, and much of the required open space will be open to the public in the form of lawns, a pickleball court and a dog park. They also will incorporate significant improvements to the creek banks to reduce erosion.
The project has requested a 52% parking reduction over that required by the code. This is largely due to constraints of the floodplain, as parking spots can’t be built in the high hazard or conveyance zones. The project is, however, also situated perfectly for such a parking reduction. Since the project is student housing, its location adjacent to the University, as well as walking distance to grocery stores and the 29th Street Mall, and a quick trip down the creek path to downtown. The parking that is provided will be unbundled from the units, and residents will pay an additional fee to have a parking spot. To encourage car free living, residents without a car will get an alternative transportation credit toward a bikeshare, carshare or ride hailing service (e.g. Lyft or Uber). In public meetings with neighbors and other city residents, the main concern has been parking. The team that will manage the property will work with neighbors to ensure issues that come up will be addressed.
While the project is designed to house students, there isn’t an explicit requirement to be a student to live there. There will be no onsite affordable units. On site affordable units don’t really make sense, as students are not eligible for participation in the City’s affordable housing program. But the project will contribute several million dollars to the affordable housing fund, in lieu of providing onsite affordable units.
The Planning Board Agenda and packet with more information about the projects are here.
While the project hasn’t received significant opposition (aside from the parking concerns), there’s always the possibility that folks that are opposed will show up, and it’s very helpful for Planning Board to hear the voices of housing advocates.
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