, 59 tweets, 8 min read Read on Twitter
This is going to be a packed thread. Sooo many facts and figures; it may be hard to keep up.

Here's the presentation, so you can follow along. www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/Citywide_…
Boulder has been planning this for a few years: dailycamera.com/2018/04/21/con…
The budget has been upped (as has, I think, the scope) to $150K, $50K of which is yet to be spent.
Surveys were done with shoppers, retailers and recently closed or relocated businesses. Lots of feedback, but mostly that shoppers are (mostly) happy but want more affordable options. Retailers want more city support.
I wrote about the fleeing of "affordable" retailers awhile ago, when I was still a sweet, kindly business reporter: dailycamera.com/2018/02/23/exo…
Regarding accessibility: 3/4 of Boulder residents live within a 3/4-mile of one of the city's 10 retail "nodes."
Workers generally have good options for food, except those at
- Broadway/Iris
- NE Boulder Industrial
- SW Gunbarrel
We're moving fairly quickly through the presentation, and I have massive amounts of data for each one of these points. Hard to keep up. Here is a basic overview:
Boulder has:
2,700 retailers in 2018
6.6M sq ft of retail space; 60.3 sq ft per capita (vs U.S. 23.4 sq ft per cap)
$2.957B in annual retail sales; $27,024 per capita
$106.6M in retail sales tax
10-yr sales tax trends: generally upward but leveled off recently
The most Boulder thing is Morzel arguing that Lucky's natural health section is comparable to a pharmacy.
Back to Boulder retail basics:
Boulder: $25.37 per sq ft NNN market rent; 400,000 vacant sq ft; 6.4% vacancy rate; 24,500 sq ft currently under construction; -2.1% 12 month absorption
Boulder's sales tax is not keeping up with inflation. Dif areas are up and down, but generally, 29th Street is declining and has been for some time.
Boulder's Pull factor: The extent to which sales exceed resident purchasing power
Over 1 = more spending by non-residents than residents
Boulder: 1.5 Pull Factor; $2.9B annual spending; $1,941 annual household spending potential
Boulder has higher pull factor than neighbors in electronics, grocery, sporting goods, restaurant, home furnishings. Less pull than neighbors in department stores, apparel.

Shopper feedback included comments that the city should offer more diversity in apparel.
Boulder's vacancy rate is higher than our neighbors and peer cities. But Macy's represents a huge chunk: 150,000 sq ft. If it is occupied (or converted to something else) vacancy would be 3.9%ish and absorption rate would be 0.
Our peer cities are also highly dependent on non-resident spending.
Ann Arbor: $21.36 sq ft rent; 64.9 sq ft of retail per capita; 3% vacancy rate; 23,000 sq ft of retail under construction; -1.2% absorption
Those numbers for Iowa City, Iowa: $14.12; 53; 1.7%; 0; 0.7%...
...Lawrence, KS: $14.46; 64.1; 4.2%; 0; -0.8%
Palo Alto, CA: $61.88; 56; 1.5%; 0; 0.2%
Santa Cruz, CA: $22.93; 52.3; 2.7%; 0; -1.2%
Retailer survey: 57 responses (of 2,673 sales-tax generating retailers in Boulder)

Early themes: Not enough parking, rising rents, cost of city regulations, hard to keep employees due to a lack of affordable housing, transients, seasonality of students
Boulder's sales and property taxes and electricity rates are mostly in line with our neighbors, according to a consultant. But our regulatory costs are "significantly higher" and our parking requirements are much lower and harder to figure out for small businesses.
That was a misquote. What the consultant said was that Boulder's regulatory costs (permits, etc.) are higher than our neighboring cities by a "substantial margin." But they didn't include actual numbers.
Council comments now. Yates starts: "How do we help those retail deserts we have in our town?" Regulatory "is a big part of it. As we look at our use tables, it's an opportunity to look at where we don't permit retail and remove those regulatory barriers.
Yates says he can walk a mile from his home and not spend money on food, drugs, liquor. "There's physically no space to open a shop."
Bodegas! Let's get some freaking bodegas.
Boulder is probably too expensive for bodegas.
Affordable rents "doesn't seem to be a genuine barrier" to a diversity of retailers, since our rents are comparable to our peers, Yates says.
RE: Regulatory costs, he thinks it's more than the actual cost: It's the burden. "Not a week goes by" that he doesn't get a call from someone saying "Do you know how hard it is to start a business in Boulder?"
"If we make it really, really hard for ppl to start a biz here, they're going to go somewhere else. And that's what's happening."
Morzel echoes and throws in building/construction regulations as well as things that need to be streamlined.
Diagonal Plaza gets a reference.
Morzel "amazed" that a key finding was how dependent we are on non-resident spending.
Yvette Bowden, parks/rec and community vitality head, saying not all non-resident shoppers are equal. There are tourists, workers, students. Something we need to watch over time.
Might be a good time to drop this other story I did back in the day, on how much retail space Boulder has. The numbers aren't still good, given this new data, but the premise is. Boulder still has *way* more retail space than it *might* need.

More than double the U.S. as a whole, which itself is way higher than other countries. But Boulder is on par with our neighbors and peer communities. So maybe we have what we need. However, given our vacancy and absorption, staff recommends keeping an eye on new retail space.
As Carlisle laments the loss of "long-gone, desirable" places to shop, another factoid from the shopper survey (900ish respondents): The older the resident, the less satisfied they are with the availability/selection of retail.
Brockett recommends maybe changing our regulatory path/costs for small businesses specifically, either under a certain size or number of employees.
Per my earlier tweet, via staff notes to council: “Staff recommends that the strategy include careful consideration of any increases to Boulder’s retail inventory in light of current and anticipated vacancy and absorption rates.”
Brockett taking issue with the finding that property taxes are comparable to neighboring cities. Said the analysis didn't do a deep dive on that, and lots of businesses say that is a huge cost for them.
Weaver: At the highest level, retail is healthy in Boulder. Relatively high satisfaction, high pull factor.
Needs of our workers "aren't rocket science." There need to be restaurants, convenience stores... things like that. "We should concentrate on service needs."
Referencing east Arapahoe, which has a huge percentage of Boulder's jobs: 40%.

Source: This story, which used city data, which I think came from CU's look at the local economy. Hard to remember. dailycamera.com/2018/08/29/wit…
Weaver also calls out (in a positive way) the feedback from Spanish-speakers.
Young jumps on that, saying she hears from that community a lot that they are driving to north Longmont to go to Walmart.
Young: We need to find out more about what they need, bc often-times they are "sparsely stocked."
Morzel says we can increase diversity of small shops, particularly for that community, if we make it easier to start businesses.
Young suggests allowing food carts. That was left out of the food truck ordinance.
Best quote ever: "You were colloqy-ing on tortillas." (Jones)
Nagle has been talking about small businesses. Many personal anecdotes. References two friends. And how lunch hour in Boulder "sucks" for traffic. She is talking very fast.
Carlisle agreeing that the permitting process needs to be less costly, burdensome. "This is decades old. There has got to be some reason this has been so difficult decade after decade. It's another method of torture in this community."
Twitter followers, a challenge: Top 10 methods of torture in #Boulder. GO!
Q from Morzel: How many people *actually* walk to these 15-minute neighborhood places? Bc they do have parking lots, and they're always jammed.
Jane Brautigam taking on permitting challenges: "We are well aware of this issue." Has made some hires. "By the end of 2020, we are re-evaluating all our processes in planning and development services."
Brautigam: "We're really, really trying on this. This is not something that can change overnight."
Brautigam: A few yrs ago, David Driscoll had a group working on this, and came under some pretty harsh criticism from members of council bc it was perceived as working with developers. I would ask us to be receptive.
OH that was Brockett. Sorry!
Gonna tweet again with the proper attribution.
Brockett: A few yrs ago, David Driscoll had a group working on this, and came under some pretty harsh criticism from members of council bc it was perceived as working with developers. I would ask us to be receptive.
Morzel: In 1986, it was great, the planning was.
Brautigam: We had a lot fewer regulations then.
Jones: We have met the enemy, and it is us. We make all these bells and whistles that ppl have to jump through.
Jones: In Portland, they devote chunks of parking lots to food truck parks. When I think about worker lunch issue, if we could allow food truck parks in areas of town w/o restaurants, that could be an elegant solution.
Brautigam: Our rules are very restrictive.
Jones: It's time to change that.
RE: food carts.
Young: It happens, so we may as well (legalize it).
Brockett: Who can beat mango on a stick with some lime juice?
That wraps this meeting. 5 min early! Amazing!
One more unroll, please, @threadreaderapp. Thank you and good night!
Missing some Tweet in this thread?
You can try to force a refresh.

Like this thread? Get email updates or save it to PDF!

Subscribe to Shay Castle
Profile picture

Get real-time email alerts when new unrolls are available from this author!

This content may be removed anytime!

Twitter may remove this content at anytime, convert it as a PDF, save and print for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video

1) Follow Thread Reader App on Twitter so you can easily mention us!

2) Go to a Twitter thread (series of Tweets by the same owner) and mention us with a keyword "unroll" @threadreaderapp unroll

You can practice here first or read more on our help page!

Follow Us on Twitter!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just three indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3.00/month or $30.00/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!