Why Is There So Much Construction in Boulder?


Saisree Kumar

“Buildings, buildings everywhere.” In place of the old liquor mart is a project that is being undertaken by Brinkmann Constructors.

As Boulder High School students, we are all familiar with the recent construction projects that have been popping up throughout the city. While some of us may be excited about the prospect of new buildings and infrastructure, others may be concerned about the potential impact on our community. How beneficial do these projects promise to be, and do the consequences outweigh the value?

If you’ve taken a walk down 15th street lately, you have probably noticed the construction that has slowed the road down a bit. The old Liquor Mart in Boulder has been a topic of discussion among locals since its closure in 2018. As reported in The Denver Post, the store closed in 2018 to make way for a new development that includes student housing and retail space. The venture has the potential for increased economic activity in the area. Still, it will undoubtedly impact the character of the neighborhood and the displacement of long-time residents, not to mention the increase in traffic it will create on Arapahoe Ave. Community members also argued that it would contribute to the already high cost of housing in the area. 

Similarly, the redevelopment of the former Macy’s building in downtown Boulder has also made headlines recently. As reported in the Daily Camera, the building was sold to Trestle Strategy Group for $32 million. The group plans to transform it into a mixed-use development with retail and office space. While the plans are still in the early stages, there is excitement among locals about the potential for the historic building to be revitalized and used to benefit the community. However, as with other construction projects in the city, there are concerns about the impact on traffic and the environment.

One of Boulder’s most significant construction projects is the Alpine-Balsam redevelopment, a multi-year effort to transform the former Boulder Community Hospital site into a new mixed-use neighborhood. As described on the project page of the City of Boulder’s website, the development includes plans for a mix of residential, commercial, and community space, as well as a new park and improved transportation infrastructure. While some residents are excited about the latest development, others are worried about the potential impact on traffic and the environment. In particular, there are concerns about the loss of green space and possible damage to nearby habitats. However, the project’s proponents argue it will help address the city’s housing and transportation challenges while providing new community amenities.

Last but not least is the contentious Boulder proposal to redevelop the CU Boulder South property. The project involves annexing the land into the city and developing housing, recreation, and flood relief infrastructure. Residents that support the project do so because it provides affordable housing for CU students and staff during the current housing shortage. Others are concerned about the environmental impact of developing the land and the potential for increased traffic and strain on existing infrastructure. The city has been actively seeking public input on the project, with many community members expressing a desire for more information and transparency about the plans. The impact of this construction project on the community remains a topic of debate and will require careful consideration from city planners and developers.

These projects make up the more controversial redevelopment undertakings. However, smaller construction projects are happening throughout the city. For example, the 30Pearl development, located at 30th and Pearl street, is a development that will consist of two mixed-use buildings with residential units and ground-floor commercial space, according to the City of Boulder. The project aims to provide affordable housing for the community, with 10% of the residential units designated as permanently affordable. Additionally, the development includes plans for a new public plaza and pedestrian walkways to improve connectivity in the area. While receiving mixed emotions, the city has supported this development overall. It exemplifies how smaller construction projects can provide much-needed affordable housing and improve public spaces.

So, what will be the impact of these new construction projects on our community? While there are valid concerns about traffic, the environment, and wildlife, there are also potential benefits. The new developments could provide much-needed housing and commercial space, boosting the local economy and providing valuable community gathering spaces. Ultimately, the impact of these new construction projects will depend on how they are designed and implemented. It will be important for city planners and developers to consider residents’ concerns and work to minimize any negative impacts on the community. With careful planning and collaboration, we can ensure that these new projects will do more good than harm in Boulder.