BOULDER (Sept. 27) – The City Council is strongly supportive of a proposed public-private partnership to redevelop, with 304 housing units, the 4.3-acre former Pollard Motors site at the northeast corner of 30th and Pearl streets in Boulder Junction.

On Tuesday night, the council voted unanimously to authorize city staff to enter into negotiations on an agreement with Denver-based Zocalo Community Development.

The plan is not finalized, but Zocalo proposes to make 63 percent of housing units on the site permanently affordable, with that proportion distributed across a number of different income levels, from low-income to moderate-income to middle-income. A little more than a third of the units would be priced at market rate.

“Living cheek by jowl, low-income to high-income earners,” said Zocalo’s William Shutkin. “We think that is, in a sense, the American experiment, and this becomes a great site to demonstrate that.”

A proposed 161 of the units would benefit people making between 30 and 60 percent of the area median income. Another 35 of the units would be dedicated for co-housing.

The unusual affordability pitched for this site is achievable to developers because they did not need to buy the land; the city owns it, and is donating it to Zocalo.

Council members were effusive in their praise of the proposal.

“I’m just really excited about this. This is turning out much better than I ever envisioned it,” Councilwoman Lisa Morzel said.

Councilman Aaron Brockett called it “an exceptional proposal,” and Councilwoman Jan Burton said the project can be a “true partnership” that shows “that we can have a great relationship with a developer.”

The developers have stated an intent to make the proposed 21,000 square feet of commercial space on the site permanently affordable.

The affordable commercial space, Councilwoman Mary Young, “is timely and much needed.”

Zocalo also has proposed building 280 spaces of underground parking, which would be privately owned and managed. Mayor Suzanne Jones asked whether the structure could be converted if and when driverless cars and ride-sharing become more dominant transit options.

“Since it’s underground, it’s probably not very easy to repurpose it, because we’ll have sloped ramps,” said Bill Holicky, of Coburn Partners, the architecture firm partnering on the project. He noted, though, that the space could become a “dock” for driverless vehicles in a potential future where there isn’t demand for 280 spaces for individually-owned vehicles.

But several details of the project are yet to be finalized, including, for example, the exact amount and affordability of commercial space, and whether or not the project ends up being net-zero, or close to net-zero, on energy.

Specific commitments on those and other fronts are expected to be hashed out during the upcoming negotiations.

By Alex Burness, Daily Camera (TNS)
Alex Burness: 303.473.1389, burnessa@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/alex_burness.