Another big issue (always) is traffic. Transportation study projects a 1,542 reduction in daily vehicle trips (91 more in the morning rush hour but 93 less in the evening rush hour; less throughout the day) when this changes from primarily retail.
Forgot to say the retail on-site will be a marketplace, a la Avanti or Rosetta Hall, called Marketplace @ 29th.

And there will be below-market commercial space
Staff is recommending that council approve the project, with conditions. Planning Board's conditions were: submission of more detailed plans related to outdoor lighting, paying for employee eco-passes, utilities, landscaping, shadow analysis, etc.
Wallach: The lightwells in the lower level is part of meeting the open space requirements. Is it just the existence of light that matters? Is there space for people?
There is, planner Elaine McLaughlin says.
Wallach's second q is a double-sigh, bringing our Sigh-o-Meter to 2
Why are we only requiring them to pay for EcoPasses for employees for 3 years?
That's always what we do, Charles Ferro says, bc that's the time it takes to establish if the program is working or not.
Wallach: If it is, why not require the applicant to keep paying for those?
Ferro: That can be a condition of approval. It has been used in the past.
Macy's estimating 400-500 employees with the remodel; 80-100 today. Plus customers, the number of which isn't shared.
This is in regards ot the traffic study. Department stores tend to have more daily vehicle trips (3,458 per day) vs. offices (1,916 per day)
Friend: What's in our purview to look at tonight, legally, for a decision? We've gotten a lot of suggestions to require housing here. What can we do?
Carr: This is not a use review. (So council can't deny this application based on there being no housing there.)
McLaughlin answer Friends' q about how many housing units *could* be built there, if the applicant wanted to.
64 units
Weaver: If the applicant were, in theory, required to do something residential, there's a different open space requirement. Could we reduce those, perhaps, to get more housing there?
Not really, Charles Ferro says. You'd probably have to rezone.
McLaughlin: One of the challenges of this site is that it's on a small hill. It would be difficult to go up: That's how you'd put more units there. The existing architecture of the building is at 55 feet, so there's little opportunity to add height.
Weaver: Isn't this application adding height?
McLaughlin: Yes, up to 55 feet on one portion of the building. Bc of the grade, it's essentially a two-story building.
Weaver: Staff touched on housing development in the surrounding area recently (some 1,600 units) but not office space. We've got Google, Boulder Commons, etc. ... any info on that?
McLaughlin: No. I included housing info bc that is a significant concern for this project.
And office use is not part of the site review criteria we're looking at tonight, she says. (That's use review: office space is allowed under zoning at the time the application was submitted.)
Which was in 2018, btw, right before council passed its Opportunity Zone moratorium.
Council did eventually change the use tables to allow more housing / less office in shopping centers, but the rules at the time the application was filed are what apply, legally.…
Jessica Fraser: "Given the state of retail today" — which COVID has exacerbated — we believe it's a real possibility that this could become a vacant space, or a seasonal retail-only space.
We want to pursue this "sustainable" reuse "while Macy's still has the resources," she says.
Charlie Smith from the Macy's team talking about the challenging topography of the site: "We analyzed every possible alternative and no other option provides a feasible" way to reuse this building.
We're saving the foundation, roof structure, etc. of the existing building, he says. That's a lot of carbon.
He says something weird about the city of Boulder "consolidating" its entire operation in this space, which is... just not true. But maybe he mentioned one specific building or department and I missed it...?
Smith: This will be "no taller than any existing structure."

True. Part of the building already goes up to 55 feet.
Smith also said it's hard to predict who/what will go there. It's reasonable to expect that the per-person square footage of offices will go up, post-pandemic; we still don't know what offices of the future will look like.
Danica Powell, a local consultant for Macy's, touching on the housing issue: The site doesn't allow for an "economically viable" amount of dwellings. Hence, the offer to pay $3M extra to the affordable housing fund.
Weaver asks how that can be legally considered, since it's not exactly part of the site plan; "I'm always concerned with how side deals are structured."
McLaughlin: "The affordable housing linkage fee is not tied to site review. That would occur at building permit. To do anything above-and-beyond what is written in the code would essentially be a donation."
Carr: "There really isn't a mechanism. ... This is paid at the time of building permit, it's not part of site review. I don't see a way to make it part of site review. I don't think you can condition approval upon it."
You're right to be concerned, Carr says: we've had things fall through before. "It's a matter of faith."
Weaver: Is there a way to contractually obligate the applicant to follow through?
Carr: It's something we can look at, like we did with 311 Mapleton.
"We'd be happy to enter into a covenant," says an attorney for Macy's on this project.
Who may be named Charlie Smith
Weaver: What assurance would you offer? If it's being offered as a package, I would ask what we can have tonight that you don't either just walk away or challenge it in court?
Smith: "If it's a condition of approval, for site review to remain valid, we'd have to meet those conditions." If an official declaration is a condition of approval, recorded in property records, it would be a matter of title.
Weaver: Is this a matter of record that can be legally binding in a court?
Carr: "I think you'd be in a pretty strong position if you had that condition."
Friend: How much of the space will be affordable commercial?
Powell: 7,500 sq ft at the plaza level. Talking about a permanent maker space or artist space as well.
Damn, some sass from Weaver: 7,500 sq ft is about 5% of the overall project square footage "to answer that question correctly," he says.
It's been awhile since we've seen Sassy Sam Weaver.
Weaver asks how the affordable commercial space would be managed. And how would it actually be affordable? "What kind of condition is the applicant willing to accept?"
Smith: Similarly we would have a recorded covenant or declaration against the property. The exact specifics of how rent would be calculated, we would discuss with the city.
Weaver: How did you decide on 7,500 sq ft of commercial space vs the office?
Missed this guy's name, but he says it's about location and building design. They wanted it on the first floor, by the plaza.
They're all using the same Zoom, so it's hard to keep track of everyone. But they wanted to keep the plaza active.
Weaver: You explained the depth and location, but I'm curious about why so little. "We're losing 155,000 sq ft of retail."
Powell: "It's based on the building configuration." It lines up with the stairwell, with the bathrooms. "It provides a lot of frontage and not too much depth ... it's what fit well from a design and retail perspective."
Wallach: "I want to express a very strong preference for rendering a final decision on this process in the context of seeing what those covenants look like."
That's his Wallach way of saying: I don't want to say yes until everything is finalized.
11 speakers for the public hearing:…
The Boulderite with one of my favorite names is here: Bijan Joobeen
Probably a close tie between Bijan Joobeen and You for best names
Peri Shaplow, the rare Two Nine North resident who approves of this project.

Well, I say rare but that's only based on the very small sample size we get at council. Def not representative of everyone who lives there.
Harmon Zuckerman giving the summary of Planning Board's feedback. Among the 4 (majority) yay votes, those members felt "the only failure" of the project was that it adds jobs, not housing.
The Board overall liked the design and found the project met land use policies, but they were mainly split on the jobs:housing imbalance.
But the building is "cavernous" and would be hard to adaptively reuse as housing, Zuckerman says.
Reminder: This was a 4-3 vote
The nay-voters said it was all about the jobs:housing imbalance
Swetlik q: Did the Planning Board know about the extra $$ for affordable housing?
No, Harmon says.
Omg it's almost 11 and we still have CU South to go. Ugh.
OK, back to Macy's. They ask for a decision tonight. We've been very accommodating in moving meetings, the team says. (This was scheduled for early in the pandemic, then moved to December, and then to January)
Unclear if council will be OK with that.
Wallach: There are many architectural details in this project that are terrific.

Asks if there is anything to be done about the existing "hideous" mechanical structure on the top of the building.
Not really, the architect says.
"Thank you for your opinion, Mark," he says.
Swetlik: What could happen at the site if we don't approve this? What's allowed by-right?
McLaughlin: "I'm not sure there is a by-right option for the use." Anything would have to go through use review.
Weaver asks how the upcoming use table changes would alter what could go at this site.
Ferro: Not much. We're really focusing on 15-min neighborhoods.
Weaver: What led to staff's assessment that this meets the criteria, on balance?
McLaughlin: The adaptive reuse of the building meeting our environmental policies was a big factor.
Ferro: The underlying land use, the zoning. This is our most intense retail area, or one of them.
Weaver: Why is there a slide about all the policies it conforms to but not the ones it potentially conflicts with?
McLaughlin: Staff didn't find that it was inconsistent with the jobs: housing imbalance policy, bc that talks about appropriate locations for housing.
"In that case ... we didn't find it to be a relevant policy in this case," McLaughlin says. "If at some point council wants to take a good look" and define what an appropriate location for housing is... you can do that.
But this is a business-oriented regional center, she says, so it didn't appear to be a relevant policy. "Not all policies are going to apply in every circumstance."
Wallach: "It seems we honor that policy only in theory, never in application."
Wallach Sigh-O-Meter: 3
"To suggest this is not a problem under (that policy) just doesn't make sense to me," Wallach says, calling staff's analysis "ludicrous."
Wallach: Have we ever denied or reduced a project on the basis of this policy? Have we ever utilized that? Or is it simply an expression of value with no content?
McLaughlin: "It's a spectrum of policies that are relevant. Unless we elevate that to be more important than other policies, we can't make that determination."
Wallach Sigh-O-Meter: 4
Brockett: I just want to be careful here. Staff worked very hard. I would be careful of words like "bizarre" and "ludicrous," Mark.
Wallach: I appreciate that, and in retrospect, I would use different language.
Friend: Is there more weight given to the jobs:housing imbalance policy?
Weaver starts to answer and Friend says she wants to hear from staff.
Ferro: "They're all intended to be equal."
Friend: So, legally, I could ignore all but one and say I just like this one best and on balance it doesn't meet comp plan policies?
Carr: I would be uncomfortable with that, and I would be uncomfortable calling this policy a criteria. "It's aspirational," like other comp plan goals.
Brockett: "I share people's concerns about housing here. If it were up to me, I would prefer a nice, affordable housing project here. Our zoning doesn't accommodate it well."
Brockett: The site doesn't accommodate housing; the zoning doesn't. What the applicant has done with adaptive reuse, and their gift of the $3M linkage fee is a significant "shot in the arm" to our housing goals.
Young starts off by talking about how high-paying jobs create low-wage jobs. She's referencing the TRENDS reports from 2017 and 2019. Disclosure: I wrote some of the 2019 report that she's reading from.
It's about the 3 jobs added for every 1 housing unit over the past few years.
I find it rich that she's reading this the same day she fought against the racist implications of single-family and restrictive zoning, but go on with your bad self, I guess.
What council seems to miss is that our jobs and housing are so out of whack in LARGE part because of how much we restrict housing! That never seems to get mentioned.
Good time to re-post this, in which an expert says that attempts to limit jobs are unlikely to be successful and are typical of rich, highly inequitable cities.…
He also said the whole "don't add high-wage jobs bc they create low-wage ones!" is really stupid. The focus needs to be on *supporting" low-wage earners, bc that's the reality of our economy now.
Young arguing that more weight SHOULD be given to this one comp plan policy about jobs:housing.

"I kind of lean where the minority, the three Planning Board members landed," she says." Housing is an issue."
Yates: "I think many of us would like Macy's to stay Macy's." (but) "we're not pushing them out." It's the reality of retail today.
"Those are not the cards we've been dealt," Yates says RE: the zoning, the land use, the reality of the existing building, etc.
That's another thing that grinds my gears RE: Young's argument. The city literally write the rules! Then council complains when people follow the rules and build what they can. You don't like that there can be office space here: Maybe you should have zoned it for housing then.
Yates: That $3M gift from developers will eventually turn into 48 units of permanently affordable housing and 64 units of multi-million dollar condos, I choose those 48 affordable units.
I'm also getting a giggle about everyone boo-hooing over Macy's leaving. Like, I get it, I know people that shop there. But it's not local, it's not small, and I have literally never been in there. Except maybe once to pee.
Accept the reality that department stores are just not a thing right now. Move on.
Friend: We shouldn't look at this one project to solve our housing crisis. And I'm concerned I don't hear this argument when we're talking about housing, like, 'can we add units here bc we really have this crisis?'
"I don't understand still why we'd focus just on that one" policy, Friend says. This is a cool reuse.
We're reducing daily vehicle trips by 40%, Friend says: That's one of the reasons we care about the jobs:housing imbalance.
Friend: Given our current crisis, "It would be sort of cavalier for us to say we don't need your money and we don't need the affordable commercial space."
Weaver: "I think modern projects would be pretty, I think they would be energy efficiency, I think they would go above and beyond to meet not only the requirements" but do more with reusing/recycling of construction waste.
Weaver comparing this project to... a hypothetical other project. "If this were a housing project," there would be 25% affordable housing or a "whole bunch of other money" going into the affordable housing fund.
In looking at comp plan policies, "most of them" aren't met bc of the project itself; it's bc of the location. That would be true no matter what goes there, he says.
The list of policies this either doesn't meet or maybe doesn't meet "goes way beyond" jobs:housing imbalance, Weaver says.
He's going policy by policy.
He says the timing of when this application came in — one day before the Opportunity Zone moratorium was passed — is "unfortunate."
It's 11:30 ya'll.
"We must note that adding office space — this will be one of the largest office spaces in Boulder — that is very questionable at the moment," Weaver says.
OH, PLOT TWIST! "However...." Weaver says, some of what Yates said is also true RE: the reality of the site.

No matter how I vote, Weaver says, this project can be better.
On balance, does it meet our policies? he asks. "It's damn close."
"It meets our needs in a very mediocre way."
^ Me about every person I've ever dated
Nagle agrees with Yates(!) and Friend(!!)
"I am pleased to see the building in general," Nagle says. Most of the buildings built recently "are just the ugliest things and have totally destroyed this town."
"Right now, I'm not seeing another option unfortunately," Nagle says. So she'll "probably" be supporting it.
Wallach: "I was prepared to reluctantly support the project, but I will tell you I have been greatly impressed by (Young's) analysis and (Weaver's) analysis. So I'm a little more on the fence than I was."
Wallach Sigh-O-Meter: 5
Swetlik: "To me this is some really beautiful late-stage capitalism in effect. This is the best way to get to what we need the least."
Damn, what a good turn of phrase.
"I think I'll end up supporting it kind of begrudgingly," Swetlik says — only bc of the voluntary extra $3M linkage fee.
Swetlik: "I don't think this is the project any of us want here. What does that say about how we're doing city planning right now?"
Swetlik on fire tonight.
As you can see from his glowing red couch light.
Yates: If the conditions are approval say these things have to be satisfactory to council, then council can *later* say no if those things aren't met?
Carr: Yes, I believe so. If council isn't satisfied, then that's not an approval.
Carr: "There's discomfort in my office about imposing conditions that are not part of site review. I'm prepared to support that bc these are voluntary conditions the applicant suggested."
The line we're walking here, Carr says, is having council require extra $$ for a project. "I'm a little concerned about the precedent, and I do not want to suggest that council has ultimate power to require anything of a developer."
Wallach: "As the granting of an exemption for height is within the council's purview, is there a reason why that cannot be explicitly linked to the exchange of another benefit?"
Carr: "I really think that benefit has to be in the code."
"The applicant has to be able to judge what the basis for your decision is going to be," Carr says.
Wallach troubled by Carr's characterization of the jobs:housing policy as aspirational. Carr explains: I'm a lawyer; I read language. The policy says we should "encourage" housing near transit, etc. — not "shall" or require
Carr: That's not as prescriptive as I would hope, legally, for you to base a decision on.
That's a good reminder for what council is doing here. It can't just turn things down willy-nilly, or it opens the city up to lawsuits. You set down the rules, developers try to follow them.
If council decides they didn't, then they (could) have a case against the city if the disapproval didn't seem to be based on the rules as written (and interpreted, obviously — which is where things get sticky)
In other words, the city has to play by its own rules.
OK, so we've got a motion to approve the project with two conditions: That affordable commercial space be provided, modeled after the agreement the city did at 30Pearl (the old Pollard site)
AND that the applicant pay the full linkage fee, resulting in an extra $3M for the affordable housing fund.
Reminder: Both of these were voluntarily proposed by the applicant, not the city.
Weaver is going to vote yes, which he says he wouldn't have done without the extra $$ for affordable housing. So I believe that's 6 votes in favor. But we'll soon see.
Wallach on board, too, at the last minute. Only Young opposed, so that's an 8-1 vote.
This (almost) closes a VERY LONG chapter. Two-plus years we've been hearing about this.
Of course, this will come *back* to council to OK the agreements for these two conditions.
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More from @shayshinecastle

6 Jan
OK, Macy's. This got moved from Dec. 1 bc not all the council members were here, and a tie vote may have meant a disapproval of the project (and potentially a lawsuit)…
A tie vote is definitely a possibility. Planning Board OK'd it 4-3.
Reminder on what's being proposed:
1900 28th Street
Adaptive reuse and redesign
11,746 sq ft addition plus outdoor space, landscaping and public amenities
Want to increase building height from 38 feet to 51 feet (two to three stories)
Read 15 tweets
6 Jan
This project went significantly over budget, mostly due to land costs. But apologies; I don't know the final numbers! It's been. along time since I reported on this.
Thanks to Wallach for asking cost info: $675 per sq ft, says Adam Goldstone. $20M in construction costs ... that doesn't include what the city paid for land, which I believe is what put them over budget.
Which was $9M (I wrote this for the Camera in 2018)…
Read 7 tweets
6 Jan
Lots of new (to me) names on open comment tonight. Generally a good sign. I like a little variety in public participation.…
Oh, it's more Boulder Rez people.
"Unless you live in a fantasy land, there will be intoxicated drivers" and deaths, says Roger Pioszak.

(The new restaurant/bar there has applied for a liquor license.)
Read 26 tweets
6 Jan
I think business related. They're calling it "the five-star program."
Weaver: I took an action that could be interpreted as on behalf of council, during the break.
Ah, OK, it's where biz can show they are meeting safety guidelines so they can open up in greater capacity:….
Read 13 tweets
6 Jan
COVID briefing. Presentation here:…
Jeff Zayach, BoCo Public Health: "We're certainly hoping 2021 is going to be a better year."
He'll be joined later by Chris Campbell, BCPH's emergency manager, to talk vaccines.
Read 86 tweets
6 Jan
Welcome back from break, #Boulder. First council meeting of 2021. Just like the everything else in America, I wouldn't expect much change from 2020.
Slightly subdued tonight, so I wouldn't expect much snark from me. But you never know.

Thank you all for your many kind words about Sydney. She would have been ... completely indifferent. Which is as it should be.
Tonight we've got: monthly COVID briefing, a public hearing on Macy's plans for reuse/redevelopment, and a CU South update.
Read 6 tweets

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