|By Heath Urie, Daily Camera, Boulder,
Colo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 21, 2011--A 140-room Hyatt hotel and an underground bus station could anchor a key component of the future "Boulder Junction" development, after the city Planning Board approved the site plan for the project Thursday night.
The project, known as the Depot Square at Boulder Junction, is a 3.28-acre site at 3151 Pearl St.
The plan, which was approved in a unanimous vote, differs significantly from the original proposal for the site in 2008. That proposal called for a surface Regional Transportation District Park-n-Ride bus facility with a traditional surface parking lot. City leaders expressed concerns about that plan, saying it didn't go far enough to meet the goals for the 160-acre Boulder Junction area -- which is envisioned as a mixed-use community where owning a car isn't necessary to get around.
So RTD and the city sent the project out for bids and new ideas.
Boulder-based Pedersen Development Co. won over officials with designs for a 101-room hotel, a large parking structure and permanently affordable apartment units that wrap around the property.
The plan recently was changed to incorporate public feedback and now includes a larger hotel, at 140 rooms, and 71 permanently affordable apartments. An additional 319 market-rate units are planned across the street from the development, at 3100 Pearl St.
Developer Scott Pedersen announced that the company has signed a letter of intent with Hyatt to operate the hotel. He described the hotel as being an "upscale boutique" that deviates from Hyatt's traditional model of hotels.
"I think we're in a really good place," Pedersen said.
The hotel would stand 54 feet tall and anchor the corner of Pearl Parkway and the future Junction Place. The site plan allows for a tavern in the hotel with outdoor seating and a late closing time.
Elaine McLaughlin, a Boulder planner, said the intent of the development as a whole is to create a "fairly intense" use of space that includes buildings up to four stories.
A 60,000-square-foot underground RTD bus station also is included and is designed to further the district's bus rapid-transit program. The station would be accessed via a ramp from Junction Place. It would include seven bus bays and pedestrian access from the four-story parking garage and residential units above.
RTD is paying for the station through a $7.7 million grant it was awarded in 2003.
The plans also call for the developer to invest about $1 million to rehabilitate a historic train depot -- which was moved to the property in 2008 -- into an "active commercial use," such as a restaurant or pub.
The depot was built in 1890 and served as a railroad passenger station until 1957 before being used as a bus terminal and travel agency through the early 1970s.
Another part of the project involves making improvements to Pearl Parkway. City planners are recommending a "multi-way boulevard" for the street that would better accommodate all types of travel from 30th Street east to the railroad tracks. The designs would include on-street parking.
An open house for the public to give feedback on the proposed street design is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday in the lobby of the Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway.
Another element of the project calls for public art, such as sculptures, to dot the property.
Board member Danica Powell praised the developer and city planners.
"I think it looks fantastic," she said. "It's just amazing how far you guys have come."
The board was enthusiastic about the design plans overall, although some members expressed concerns about the aesthetics of a vinyl wall that is planned to drape over one end of the hotel.
The City Council has 30 days to call up the site plan for review. If the council decides not to call it up, the plan would be final as approved Thursday.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or email@example.com.
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