Attention Homes at 1440 Pine Street

The proposed “Attention Homes” development at 1440 Pine Street, in the Whittier neighborhood, will have a Public Hearing before the Planning Board, on Thursday, May 18th (at the City Council chambers).

The neighborhood residents are asking Planning Board and the City Council to agree to the following:

  • Get rid of the 2,500 square feet of administrative office space that is clearly not allowed under land use code.
  • Get rid of the retail space proposed, which is also not allowed under land use code and will likely become a hangout place for transients.
  • Adequate on-site parking for all units, rather than expecting the neighborhood to absorb the parking demand.

An on-line petition has been created detailing these requests, which you can read and sign here:

Petition objecting to 1440 pine street

To get involved, or for more information, contact:

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A developer has proposed a 30,000 square foot, $12 million facility for homeless adults at 1440 Pine Street, for the Attention Homes organization. The neighborhood is requesting that the City convene a collaborative, creative process to design a smaller facility or develop an alternative that best meets the needs of Boulder’s homeless young adults and the needs of the neighborhood – and do so at less cost. Currently, the scale and scope of this project is very large and exceeds the Boulder building standards.


The ideal outcome for the neighborhood would be that the City put this project on hold and convene a meaningful and productive dialogue with all concerned parties – the Church, Attention Homes, neighbors, local businesses, service provision experts – to design a project that meets (or at least balances) the needs of everyone in the community.

Right now, federal dollars are driving the entire conversation rather than a shared community vision.

We urge the City to step away from the federal dollars so that there can be a productive dialogue among all parties about the best use of this land to serve the affordable housing challenge, the young adult homeless population, the interests of local businesses and the needs and concerns of the very vibrant Whittier neighborhood.

Some key points:

  1. Out of State Interests: The developer, Gardner Capital, is an out-of-state, for-profit private equity development firm that focuses on large scale LIHTC developments. Its focus is on its investors. But it has proposed for Boulder a facility that is more appropriate to a City three times the size of Boulder. Similar sized projects (which have been referenced by Gardner and Attention Homes) are locations such as Ft. Wayne, Indiana, a town of about 250,000 and Minneapolis, Minnesota, a town of 410,000.
  2. Forty Year Requirement to House Homeless: The LIHTC from Colorado Housing Finance Authority requires Gardner to sign a Land Use Restriction Agreement (LURA) stating this facility will house the homeless for the next forty years (even if the original service provider, Attention Homes, ends its role). This means Whittier and downtown Boulder will be home to a homeless facility of some kind until 2058. This could be very bad for businesses in downtown Boulder.
  3. Mass, Scale, Density: What is allowed, by right, on this plot of land is 2 detached dwellings or a building with 14 units. The developer has asked for a long, long list of variances (what the planning department is now calling “deviations”) to build, instead, a 30,000 square foot facility with 40 units, 2500 square feet of administrative office space, 1000 square feet of professional space, 1000 square foot retail restaurant. This behemoth is so beyond the bounds of what is truly appropriate to this neighborhood– and is making its way through the process primarily because of the “community benefit”. But it is not a benefit to those of us already in the community and that is hugely problematic.
  4. Federal Funding Drives the Mass, Scale and Density rather than what makes sense for neighborhood and site: The huge scale of the project is driven, again, by the LIHTCs. CHFA prefers to fund large-scale projects and its funds cannot go to group homes. So, the entire process – driven by the federal funding stream – results in a huge building, with an extremely high number of units, with onerous restrictions on the future use of the facility, and zero flexibility on material changes. That’s not how decisions about projects as complicated and controversial as this should be made.
  5. Best Use of Valuable Real Estate?: This plot of land – one of the last undeveloped plots in downtown Boulder – is a precious resource. There are so many ways this plot could serve the entire spectrum of the community’s housing needs. But we need to have that conversation.
  6. Restaurant proposed for facility is completely inappropriate for neighborhood: The current proposal includes a 1000 square foot restaurant (to be used as a “social enterprise”) situated at the corner of 15th and Pine. This is completely unacceptable to the neighborhood. That corner is truly the interface between the Church block and the residential blocks of Whittier. A restaurant on this site will change the character of the Whittier neighborhood, may serve as a magnet for the already significant population of transients and may well serve as a risky interface between the troubled young people who live in the facility and the more than 1400 school children who attend the nearby schools (Whittier, Casey and Sacred Heart) and walk by this site daily. Assuming the young people who live in the facility are willing to work, downtown boulder has ample restaurant jobs available. There is no need for such a component in this facility.
  7. Parking Woes Will Be Made Worse: The proposed facility provides ZERO parking for any of the 40 units on the assumption homeless young adults will not have cars and will use public transit and bike shares to get around. Given that we are a car culture, it is fantastical to imagine that not one of these folks will ever have a car and need to park it somewhere. To make matters worse, the proposal offers a total of 82 parking spaces where 217 are required. Our neighborhood is maxed out as regards parking and this facility – and the extremely limited parking is going to make matters much much worse.
  8. Concerns about the Residents: The young people who would live in this facility are extremely troubled. Attention Homes acknowledges that “100% of these young people are traumatized and the majority suffer from untreated mental health and substance abuse issues.” These are troubled young adults and, although they are between 18 and 24 when they arrive, due to the HUD housing vouchers, they cannot age out. Conceivably, a resident could live in this facility for years and years, long into actual adulthood. Add to that the fact that these young people are allowed to have guests (since as rent paying residents they do have rights) and these guests will not be screened, could well be dangerous to other residents and to the neighborhood. The residents are not required to be sober or drug free.
  9. Risks to the Facility Residents: There are serious concerns that this facility, while providing a roof overhead, will result in real harm to some of its residents. The sheer number of residents (and their guests) combined with the mental health, substance abuse and life skills challenges raises the real very possibility that some young people will be hurt, that there could be violence, chaos and tension. Does the City really want to move forward treating this project as if it just another development project when it so clearly is not. What is good for the developer may in fact not be what is good for the kids. In fact, at the two other facilities Gardner points to as models there have been real problems and changes. In Ft Wayne, the facility, run by an experienced regional service provider, has had significant turnover – not graduation – and has a long list of people now prohibited from entering the facility. The other facility, in Minneapolis revised its mission and now serves 16-21 year olds, rather than 18-24 year olds.

This is a complex and complicated project and problem. The City should not be treating this as a typical development. Your voice could help to create the space for the kind of conversation that needs to happen. We hope Planning Board and City Council will listen to neighbors and stop this project and convene a real community dialogue. Short of stopping this project, please prohibit the restaurant, please reduce the number of units, please require more parking spots, please require HVAC instead of motel-style individual cooling systems, please require the building be a uniform 2 stories.

To get involved, or for more information, contact:

Recent News and Blog Posts:
  • No call-up: Boulder council grants final OK to 1440 Pine St. The proposed development at 1440 Pine St. was given final approval on Tuesday night, as the Boulder City Council declined an opportunity to call up the project for further discussion. That decline upholds a 6-1 vote of the city Planning Board last month to approve the project, which will see a three-story building built on a ...
  • Boulder Planning Board produces expected outcome: approves housing for homeless young adults at 1440 Pine St. Boulder Planning Board produces the result they were expected to produce: they approved housing for young homeless adults at 1440 Pine St. After 18 months of community debate — often unusually heated, even by Boulder’s standards — the city Planning Board on Tuesday night approved a proposal to build housing for homeless young adults in a ...
  • Steve Pomerance: ‘Density transfers’ at 1440 Pine – Boulder Daily Camera When I heard about the Attention Homes project at 1440 Pine, now under review by the Planning Board, something about the large size and high number of at-risk young adults that would be housed there didn’t ring true to me. Then I learned that this was the result of a “density transfer.” I couldn’t remember ...
  • Cara Luneau: Attention Homes project a misuse of public funds The Boulder Planning Board held a public hearing Thursday night on the proposed $12.5 million Attention Homes residence for homeless young adults. …There are many compelling reasons for us to reject this proposal. While many have already been written about, I will attempt to summarize them here: The proposed transfer of public funds for this project from ...
  • Boulder board delays vote on 1440 Pine St. proposal after marathon public hearing – Boulder Daily Camera The Planning Board was finally set to vote on the project, after about a year and a half of often-spirited community debate. Anticipating a lot of citizen input, the board started its meeting an hour early on Thursday, but public comment still lasted until after 11 p.m.Because of the late hour, the board decided to ...
  • 2 Boulder Planning Board members face possible conflicts ahead of vote on 1440 Pine St. – Boulder Daily Camera Potential conflicts of interest for two Planning Board members loom over the board’s highly anticipated Thursday vote on whether to approve a controversial plan to build housing in downtown Boulder for 40 chronically homeless young adults. Source: 2 Boulder Planning Board members face possible conflicts ahead of vote on 1440 Pine St. – Boulder Daily Camera
  • Danielle Dougherty: Attention Homes ignoring neighborhood input I am writing to express my opposition to the the 1440 Pine transitional shelter for young adults… I have spent the last several months serving as a board member on Attention Homes’ Good Neighbor Operations Group… Sadly, while Attention Homes talked a good game, in the end, they did not incorporate even one neighbor suggestion in ...
  • Why 1440 Pine Street Project is Bad for the Homeless – Judy Nogg I am opposed to the current proposal for 1440 Pine Street. I don’t live nearby. Indeed, I’d rather devote my attention to my own neighborhood issues, but I am so concerned about the dangers to young adults that I must present my concerns. Of course, most people want options for homeless young adults. I believe that the ...
  • Greg Ekrem: Funding at 1440 Pine ties city’s hands for 40 Years We recently learned that if private equity firm Gardner Capital, First United Methodist Church and Attention Homes build the proposed 40-bed facility for homeless young adults at 1440 Pine St., the primary funder’s requirements will not allow the facility to be repurposed to serve any other affordable housing needs until 2058. According to a Feb. 16 ...
  • Emily Reynolds: Attention Homes project should conform to existing zoning Scott Puffer’s letter to the editor (Daily Camera, Dec. 30) shows he feels strongly: 10 meetings with groups opposing the Attention Homes project is just about right before he and his ilk can begin the full-scale, uninterrupted violation of Pine Street. Yes, Pine can be just like Canyon Boulevard with grossly oversized, high-density buildings. Moreover, ...

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