I applaud City Council for supporting lower density at 3303 Broadway and in following the lead of Planning Board that voted unanimously against the developer’s proposal to bring high density and commercial components to this 1.3-acre site. High density is not appropriate for every piece of land and certainly not adjacent to Foothill Elementary School, where children on foot and on bicycles are a component of one of the busiest intersections in Boulder.
Late last year, developer Margaret Freund brought forth a proposal for a mixed-use high-density development, with … 50 middle-income housing units. Her vision for the currently vacant lot, which sits near the corner of Broadway and Iris Avenue, was shot down in a unanimous decision by the Planning Board.
Council members did appear open, however, to re-evaluating 3303 Broadway for its potential as a project with lower density than that which Fruend proposed.
That opportunity for re-evaluation came Tuesday, and the council, by a 5-4 margin, voiced reluctant support for a designation of the site that allows for as few as 10 units per acre, and gives a density bonus of up to 20 units per acre if Fruend decides to develop on-site affordable housing.
The Boulder City Council is interested in the potential of the vacant, roughly 1-acre plot at 3303 Broadway as a housing site in the future. But the plan, dubbed “Iris & B” by the plot’s developer, Margaret Freund, is not going to be the vehicle for that housing. Freund’s pitch … was unanimously rejected by the Planning Board last month, consistent with the recommendation of city planning staff. On Tuesday, the City Council had a chance to rescue the project by calling it up for an additional review following the Planning Board decision. It declined that chance by a 7-2 vote, but agreed to consider a land-use change for the site later this month.
I would like to say the proposal to build luxury apartments at 3303 Broadway illuminates a long-term deficiency in Boulder’s approach to the need for affordable housing.
I find it hard to believe that the creation of a discordant collection of maxi and mini apartments will do anything towards alleviating the need for low-income housing in Boulder. Rather, these apartments target the wealthy, single resident. Rental rate per square foot is stratospheric. There is no possibility of squeezing a low- or mid-income family into 425 square feet. We need to provide a real neighborhood of family housing; there are examples of this in Boulder.
Some proponents of the 3303 Broadway plan castigate those who oppose the development as “NIMBYs.” I stand in proud opposition to the current plan and I find this accusation not only simplistic but untrue.
Neighbors of 3303 Broadway and others who oppose this proposal have reasons for their opinion. There are issues of flooding danger, traffic danger, school safety, serious lack of parking, a design and density that does not conform to the neighborhood. The planning staff expressed these concerns for months on the city website and the Planning Board concurred.
As inclusive neighbors, we share the concern about lack of permanent affordable housing — for low-income and middle-income people. We ran the numbers and don’t agree that the developer’s plan offers permanence or affordability.
It is of primary importance to stress that the opponents of the current proposal at 3303 Broadway are not against residential development at that location. The developer, from Richmond, Va., has been developing there for over 20 years. Boulder is not Richmond. Our city requires a collaborative and inclusive approach to development.The supporters of the plan continually mention affordable and middle-income housing being built there. They say that they look forward to a mixed population in the neighborhood. Are 450-square-foot units rented for $1,250-$1,300 a month truly affordable?
Recent editorials have criticized the unanimous decision of Boulder’s Planning Board and the planning staff to deny a developer’s proposal for 3303 Broadway (former People’s Clinic site). While I understand and support the need to create more middle-income units in Boulder, it is unclear if these critics took the time to review the hundreds of pages of background information, listen to voices on both sides, or spend time at the site to observe access, traffic, parking, and safety issues to develop an informed opinion.