Moving on: The public hearing on redevelopment of 2054 Spruce. Presentation:…
Folkerts is recusing herself bc her office (she's an architect) "has a relationship with the developer."
I don't have a story on this, but I do have this guest opinion that basically says we should put more housing here. Appropriate to share, bc that's kinda what a majority of council asked for when they voted to call this up Sept. 28.…
Of course, they didn't *quite* use this language.
And I have notes!
This development is being called Paplio.
63 units - 16 townhomes, 45 apartments
2-3 bedrooms and for-sale units
Part of it could go up to four stories
Mecha Building will be landmarked and used - late mid-century Googie style
Council initially asked for more density. A few ways to do that, none of which the applicant is asking for (that I'm aware of)
BC-2 zoning allows for 1 unit per 1,600 sq ft of lot space
This site 2.33 acres = 63 units
It could be rezoned to mixed use 1, 2 or 3 (based on the underlying land use) but only MU-3 would allow more units - 74, with 18 affordable
1-2 will be 51 units with 12 affordable units
A rezoning actually makes sense here, bc the land use and zoning are inconsistent.

In 2000 BVCP update, land use was changed from Community Business to Mixed Use Business but zoning wasn’t. It was intended to be rezoned at the time of development
“In the memo associated with the land use map change, it was also noted that the intent of the land use change to Mixed Use Residential (MUR) was to allow for specific commercial and industrial areas to evolve into a “mix of uses as well as to provide affordable residential.”
Another option to get more housing here would be
a special ordinance (a la Diagonal Plaza and a few dozen other examples) changing the limits on units per lot size to 1 per 800 sq ft

Would allow 126 units, with 32 affordable
But like I said, the developer isn't asking for that. It's still early in the process tho: Concept plan, which means council is just giving general feedback.
I think the developer (Ali Gidfar, local guy) *is* asking to not have to put a street through the middle of the site. This is at Folsom/Pearl, which is already pretty well-served with roads.
Plus, the street would be a right in/right out only on Folsom, and impact the bike lane there AND require a bridge over the creek/ditch there.

He's suggesting a multi-use path instead, but staff says even that isn't really needed.
Lots of bike lanes in and around there.

TAB also recommended against a path or street through the site (it's required by yet another regulation, but can be waived).
Back to options to get more housing here - Planner Elaine McLaughlin says that a special ordinance would have to waive open space requirements, too, bc those wouldn't allow for ~120 units here.

Many, many rules limit the # of homes that can be built in Boulder.
McLaughlin: 4 of 5 speakers at the Planning Board public hearing advocated for more housing on the site. And council has since received a number of emails with that request as well.
Speer: When we're thinking about landmarking the former Big O Tire shop on the site, are our climate and equity goals considered?
James Hewat: "Certainly in terms of making a building like this energy efficient, there are many ways to do that. I think those goals are not mutually exclusive."
Winer: How important is it to have this landmarking? Maybe it would be better to use the space for extra housing? How do we determine that? Is it just a council decision?
McLaughlin: Planning Board talked about maybe moving the four-story portion to this area. There's community benefit implications when you move or increase height and mass of a building.
"It has to do with provision of permanently affordable housing. It's a complicated equation," McLaughlin says.
Winer: My q is do we have to make this a landmark? Is it that important? And how important?
McLaughlin: Planning Board suggested it adds some inherent urban design value, a link to the past and some character.
Hewat: I think that when a project is in the site review process, it is a question of balancing the community benefits, of which there are potentially several here.
Good time to mention that Gidfar is OK with the landmarking, so far as I know. And planning on keeping it.
Hewat: Preserving this building won't result in a big loss of units, from my understanding. Staff usually makes a recommendation about landmarking (later in thee process) and Planning Board/ council can follow that or not.
Yates: You talked earlier about embodied energy by not tearing this down, but aren't we tearing down 5 other buildings here? How much is this contributing?

Hewat: That's a good point.
Yates: I'm a little surprised that we don't know how many incremental units there would be here. Is it 2, is it 5, is it 10, is it 20?
"Somebody must have done the math on this," Yates said.
McLaughlin: I think it was like 8 units.
6 market rate and 2 affordable units
But we'll hear from Gidfar now
Another person I've had enjoyable interviews with but I don't think the feeling is mutual. Le sigh.
All investors in this project are local, Gidfar says. And the team is happy with the current zoning. "We don't need any special dispensation."
Maybe why it's important to have the rules reflect what you want, bc these guys prob already have a ton of work and $$ into current plans. Prob not easy (or cheap) to switch them up with new zoning.
But that's just speculation. I called and emailed Gidfar and did not get a response, so idk.
LOL Gidfar correcting the record: "Someone we know and love said the townhomes are $3M. They're nowhere near. $2.4 is the max we can get."
I know that's a big dif, % wise, but the dif between $2.4M and $3M to regular folks is such a moot point, bc it's so far beyond our reach.
Chris Shears, architect, weighs in on the landmarking: "We've become attached to the building." So they'd like to keep it.
Also, the current regs allow for 64 units, not 63, which means there will be 9 affordable units, not 8.

"We're still hoping we can have those affordable units for-sale, on-site, if we can," Gidfar says.
Winer and Yates walked the site yesterday, Gidfar says. If this was a vote, they'd have to disclose that, but it's just general feedback.
Each on-site affordable unit represents a $294,000 loss, Gidfar says
Now showing some interesting numbers on cost of condos vs. apartments, bc apparently they require dif materials. Steel and concrete for condos, wood frame and concrete for apartments.
About $17/per sq ft more expensive to do condos. (Townhomes are the cheapest, btw, by about $13/sq ft)
Gidfar: "Basically, what this is telling us is to do for-sale, we move to stricter construction standards and the cost increases 30%. That's really significant. That's going to be tough to overcome."
Super helpful and interesting explanation on costs that we don't usually get.
Insurance costs are also higher for for-sale units: 4% of construction costs vs. 2-2.5% for rental construction, Gidfar says.
Gidfar *does* have a slide that shows a site plan under a rezone, with 74 units instead of 64. So maybe he is planning on it.
"I think at this point, the unknowns are great enough that we're leaning strongly toward" keeping the current zoning, Gidfar says.
Wallach: One of our greatest needs is affordable options for ownership. I would hate to see that go.

Gidfar: "I haven't given up on the for-sale apartments yet. But it's not looking good."
(That has nothing to do with zoning, btw. Didn't mean to make it seem like that by putting those tweets together. The convo just moved on in that order.)
Benjamin: "I understand the constraints that you have, but this is in such transit-rich environment. It's such a great place. I'd love to see more people be in this space."
Benjamin: I want to push you on the rezoning. And I'm less interested in the landmark. I want to get more housing.
Speer: The townhomes are 2,600 sq ft for a 3BR, 1,800 sq ft for a 2BR. "It seems large." Can you speak to the need in the community that's filling?
Gidfar: "2,600 sq ft for 3BR/3.5 bath, family room kind of program is reasonable. ... It's an efficient way to generate revenue to pay for the apartment building."
"It's what seemed to fit," Gidfar says. "That total square footage and the revenue it generates is what's driving that."
Speer: If it was stacked, it wouldn't generate the same revenue?
Gidfar: When you stack, that's when you have the dif construction standards and higher costs.
Friend to staff: We've had a lot of community outreach and advocacy for more units, more on-site units, more affordable units. What are we allowed to ask for, under the regulations?
McLaughlin: "We are a little bit hamstrung."
Kurt Firnhaber: Council can't direct the developer on what to do with affordable housing. We have our inclusionary housing requirements, but that's all we can do.
"We'd be able to create more (affordable) units" if the developer pays cash-in-lieu, Firnhaber says, bc we can leverage tax credits and such.
3X as many, staff has said in the past. I want to shout this at ppl who complain about cash-in-lieu as the developers paying their way out of affordable housing. They're paying FOR *more* affordable housing.…
But I digress.
Hella Pannewig, assistant city attorney, says there are two options for rezoning: The applicant could apply for one, or the city could initiate it — which would be possibly unprecedented.
I mean, I'm almost positive the city has rezoned to allow *less* housing before, but I can't recall them rezoning mid-project to require *more* housing.
Gidfar: "The short time I've had to study the MU-3 (zoning), I don't think there's any downside to it."
"If it doesn't impede the process, I'm not opposed to that at all," Gidfar says.
11 speakers for public comment (or maybe 9 bc 2 ppl aren't here — we're behind schedule)
Andrew Harris: "Even with an upper middle-class income, you simply can't afford to live in Boulder."
"I don't think I'm alone here in panicking about the climate crisis," Harris says. "In light of these concurrent crises, it would be negligent not to push for the most infill we can get at sites like this."
10 more units. That's literally all we can get here without a broad rezoning — which can't be done right now, or in time for this project.
Not to say it's not worth it, but that's the real figure we're talking about here. These zoning rules take years, maybe decades, to change in any meaningful way, bc the underlying land use is set in the BVCP. That gets updated every 5 years (and takes ~2 to change)
"Each year, more and more DACA recipients move away bc Boulder is not an affordable place to live anymore," says Laurel Herndon, of the Immigrant Legal Center. Our staff also struggles to live here.
Herndon speaks of one employee in particular, who just won a housing lottery through BHP. More than 500 applications for the ~20 units at 30Pearl.
Janet Heimer: "I would like to see more affordable housing ... The luxury units that are in this proposed project. I really don't think we need" them. "We already have more than enough in Boulder. That's not what the need is."
However, would settle for more units generally. And hopefully smaller ones that regular families could afford — not these big, luxury homes. Wants for-sale, not rental.
Phillip Ogren: "Building compact and affordable housing near downtown ... creates opportunities for ppl to live low-carbon lifestyles" via short commutes and walkable neighborhoods. "14 multi-million dollar condos is completely tone-deaf to this moment in history."
"Those 14 condos should be replaced by many more units," Ogren says.
LOL "I love the idea of landmarking the corner building so that my children's children can imagine what it was like for their grandparents to buy tires."
(That was Ogren, too) Loving the snark tonight.
Kurt Nordback: "As a city, we say we don't want to be exclusive, and yet we keep getting housing that is almost certainly exclusive. ... $2.4M — that's exclusive."
Evan Freirich: "It's certainly been an interesting process listening to the comments from new council members and the developer. ... This developer surprised me a great deal by not wanting any more units."
"Maybe the city needs more tools to generate more affordable housing as we do density," Freirich says.
Macon Cowles: "We have never tried to landmark a 1972 box gas station that is called the Googie style. That site is not eligible for state or federal historic preservation."
(Boulder has landmarked at least a few buildings that weren't state or federally eligible."
Cowles: Of course a developer is not going to ask to remove a street connection, not landmark a building and do a rezoning at the same time. Our regulations are too cumbersome.
Cowles: "We emphatically do not need 14 more $2M condos." If we force developers to build those in order to meet our other requirements, there's something fundamentally wrong with those requirements.
Claudia Hanson Thiem: This is a small project for the level of feedback. But it's a great window into how we do infill development.
"It seems like we could do more, and we certainly should do more," Hanson Thiem says.
Hanson Thiem: "Creating a minor landmark, to car culture no less," is not worth missing out on housing.
David Adamson closing us out asking for flexibility " we we can get more housing we need. Not more luxury. Ppl cry 'It's the developer's doing it.'

It's not the developer's fault. It's our fault. The citizens, the council" our laws.
Gidfar: "I want to start by acknowledging all the comments tonight. I'm v moved. ... I will be studying what happens if we do all apartments and no townhomes."
"I really want to do for sale. But if the economics don't allow it, idk what to do. My back is against the wall. "It's expensive going through this process. That's what hurts right now." Gidfar says.
It's not just about me, Gidfar says. We're all just parts of a transitional process.
Joseph: "It's not a nonprofit biz you are running. We need to support you as much as we can. Our values and needs are not divergent."
Joseph against landmarking and for removing that required east-west street.

"Anything that takes away housing is to the detriment of the project itself."
Speer: "Where I'm coming from is valuing as much housing as possible and as much affordability as possible."
"I'm 100% in support of increasing the density" here, Speer says.

Opposed to landmarking. "6 units doesn't feel like much, but that is at least 6 ppl who can join our community and not commute in each day.

"Every little drop matters."
"I'm not married to that building," Gidfar says. That's up to the city.
Friend: My understanding is that if a building is 50+ yrs old, and someone applies for demolition, that automatically triggers a landmark review.
Friend: "My understanding is we currently fund our affordable housing through luxury condos. I think we have to be really careful about bashing that when that's how we currently do it."
I didn't put that in place, Friend says, but that's how we get affordability, in a weird way.
Gidfar: "I'm open to" a zoning change and demolishing that building. "I just need direction so we can spend the precious time we have to come up with a solution."
Yates: We've had a number of project where ppl say they're going to do on-site or for-sale, and it doesn't happen. "I've always been frustrated by the fact that a developer doesn't have to tell us until they pull their building permit."
Why? is his question. Why not earlier?
Firnhaber: Bc they have to have a choice (via state law) that's the natural trigger point.

Yates: Can that trigger happen earlier?
Pannewig: It could be, but there are reasons it's set up the way it is. It's a general zoning requirement that applies even for projects that don't go through site review (Yates' suggested trigger point)
Firnhaber: The other real-life situation is a for-sale project that took 2 yrs to go through the process, then the financials don't work anymore. Or vice versa.
Yates: "Lots of things change. Developers take that risk."
Yates: "I've seen too many projects we've approved as A and then turned out as B."
"Density is important here," Yates says. "We don't have these opportunities often, close to downtown and near transit."

Also not in favor of landmarking or the thru street
Wallach: "It's becoming a bit of a shell game. It leaves us dissatisfied that that which we thought we were getting, we're not getting."
Wallach: "Other than the specific affordable units, not one of these units are going to be remotely affordable."
No issue with increasing density, Wallach says, "but it's not the only value that's involved. It looks like the same kind of block architecture we got at Boulder Junction, which to me is a nightmare."
Prob not a nightmare for the 15 formerly unhoused ppl who got housed there....
Wallach: PB supported the project unanimously. "Why do we have staff, and why do we have a Planning Board if we give so little weight to their recommendations?"
Winer: It's v easy to get excited about all these new units, but how is that dif from all the too-expensive rental units we have now that ppl can't afford?
Benjamin: I do want to see us increase that zoning. It's weird to not have conformity between land use and zoning.
Brockett: "We can't force you to do extra, but what we can do is say we're open to it. We're open to more units, smaller units."
We're not rejecting Planning Board's comments, Brockett says to Wallach. We're saying you can do more.
Gidfar: I'm still not clear as to what we're doing with the Mecca building.
Shears: That requires a demolition permit, and the Landmarks Board will have to OK it. Though council can overturn their decision.
OK, that's the end of this *very long* discussion. Super interesting if you're wondering the many reasons why housing is so f*cked in Boulder.
Obvs not all of them: There are even MORE reasons.
But we're not gonna cover them all tonight.
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More from @shayshinecastle

1 Dec
Getting an update on occupancy enforcement now. Will see if council still wants to suspend evictions, and if they'll do it now or when they start working on reform next year.
Refresher here. It's a bit confusing.
Read 78 tweets
1 Dec
Next up: Budget adjustments. It's pretty boring, nothing that really stood out. See for yourself:…
That presentation is way better than my own notes, but here they are anyway.

$18,495,924 total in appropriations to the 2021 budget.
This is all additional revenue and/or rollover.
So, like, if something was budgeted for but didn't actually happen, that $$ rolls over. It's called fund balance.

That's a way simple explanation, and there's more to it than that. But that's all I feel qualified to say.
Read 16 tweets
1 Dec
A couple call-ups tonight. Reminder: Call-up is the official term for Does Council Want to Review This Decision or Vote?
Prob will be a little discussion tonight on the redevelopment of the Millenium Harvest Hotel. Plan is to make it into 295 dwellings, likely student apartments.

Quick notes on this one:
The Harvest Hotel was constructed in 1958. There are some *great* old photos in the presentation that I shared above.

The new build would be three 4-story buildings with the following mix of housing:
- 195 4BR
- 12 3BR
- 30 2BR
- 58 1BR
Read 76 tweets
1 Dec
First up is approval of the 2021 election results. Only the council members who were *not* elected this year will OK them, as the central canvassing and election board.
If any members of council happen to be reading this, can you please ask why the # of active voters and ballots in the city is dif for the CC race vs. issues? Please and thanks!
Read 7 tweets
1 Dec
#Boulder! It's city council night! After a week off, I'm feeling refreshed and ready to GO.

Tonight we've got two public hearings:
- Budget adjustments
- Review (no vote) of plans to redevelop 2054 Spruce into 63 homes
Then a couple non-public hearing items, such as OKing the election results and an update on what council is doing / plans to do with occupancy limits and evictions.

Should be fun!
I know I've already posted a campaign ask, but I hear the key to good fundraising is to keep asking.

If you enjoy *not* attending city council meetings and instead reading my threads and/or recaps, please consider supporting Boulder Beat with some $$.…
Read 6 tweets
17 Nov
Brief discussion on in-person vs. remote vs. hybrid council meetings.

So far not a fan of hybrid, bc I can't hear half the people.
Yates: I feel somewhat strongly that I don't want some council members are virtual and some in person.
Only caught about half of what he's saying bc the sound sucks.
Read 15 tweets

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