November 4, 2021 Planning Board Millennium Harvest House Redevelopment

At this lovely historic site adjacent to Boulder Creek, Landmark Properties, a national developer of student housing, is proposing 295 market rate 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom units of student housing in three buildings 55 feet tall removing the existing hotel (which exceeds that height), shown in the first image below. The Boulder Housing Network does not typically support a project that is simply comprised of expensive, market rate units. However, this project will provide much needed student housing, and just might relieve some of the pressure on The Hill. Furthermore, the developer will be contributing approximately $15 million into the City’s affordable housing fund which will create permanently affordable units elsewhere. And there is one additional huge benefit: potentially all of the land from the south end of the buildings to the south end of the property south of Boulder Creek (see the detail from p. 119 of the Planning Board packet below) could be public open space, available to Boulder residents and visitors as well as to tenants of the student housing. This area appears to be approximately 6-7 acres.

The Millennium Harvest House today – p. 105 of Planning Board Packet, 11/4/2021

The applicant proposes to demolish the existing curvilinear hotel at 1345 28th Street and redevelop the property with three 4-story buildings up to 55-feet in height. The development proposal calls for 295 residential apartments, in a mix of studio, one-, two-, three-, and four- bedroom configurations. The site plan below is from the Planning Board packet for the November 4 hearing. The property includes a very large piece of land south of Boulder Creek where the site plan shows what now exists there: six tennis courts, two parking lots and three small buildings. No new construction can occur south of Boulder Creek, as that area is a high hazard zone for flooding on the FEMA flood maps. Potentially, this project can rehabilitate and restore the riparian areas on both sides of the Creek. To be sure, the existing tennis courts would have to be removed in order to do this.

Every building has to have what Stewart Brand in How Buildings Learn called “three contradictory lives.” It must work 1) for the investors, 2) for the people who live or work in the buildings and 3) for the surrounding community. Focused comments and email to Planning Board can have a huge impact on the second and third contradictory lives of this project.  The most important part of the public realm—the third life of the Millennium Harvest House project—will be located between the south end of the buildings and Boulder Creek. What will it be? Will it be a place primarily for sunbathing and frisbee throwing students, like any large green space adjoining residence halls on the campus? Or will it be a place to which non-university residents and visitors as well as college kids are drawn? We encourage you to advocate with Planning Board for an inclusive and welcoming place for the whole community

Site Plan – p. 119 of the Planning Board Packet

This is a terrific place for bike-centered transportation. The Creek Path provides convenient access to the East Campus, the main campus and Downtown. A 46% parking reduction is proposed to allow for 387 parking spaces, where 712 are required per the underlying zoning. A key point is to greatly reduce parking by 50% or more, helping to move us to bike-centered transportation. The landlord here can require that tenants not own cars, but use car share, bikes or other means of transport. Staff, however, is pushing back against this parking reduction. The Planning Board packet for this site is Item 5A on the agenda.

Rendering showing the massing of the proposed buildings – p. 100 of Planning Board Packet, 11/4/2021

This location is ideal for student housing; but the site has unique aesthetic, environmental and creekside values that the whole Boulder community should be able to enjoy as well. Our engagement early in the planning process can ensure that this 15-acre site is developed with the interests of the wider community in mind.

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