Gentle Infill Innovate for Impact Project: North Street EcoDistrict - 6th to 9th St on North-NSTED (pronounced “instead”). What if, instead of:
- not knowing neighbors, overspending on stuff we might share, high cost of childcare, investing every month in coal and fracked oil and gas for electricity, heat and transportation, increasing rents and home prices that leave no place for younger people to settle down or for aging in place or for a diverse population...
We "mix it up"?! Younger and older, different income levels, a wealth of races and backgrounds all inspiring each other, all creating a beautiful neighborhood of durably attainable private residences, non-polluting, safe transportation, nature and garden-filled public spaces and renewable power?
Could we make a neighborhood that is better for everyone? If we work together, we think we can! Let's break it down: If we use the land in a way that benefits the community, everyone wins:
Benefits for Absentee owners: potential to maintain or increase rental income by receiving the opportunity to modify or enlarge existing units and/or add additional units (not possible now with previous downzoning of their grandfathered density) while serving the community by making the units "permanently attainable" (resale prices and rents are restricted to rate of inflation plus a return on capital investments).
Benefits for Owner Occupied owners: provide an alternative income path that increases current income, creates a more vital, beautiful community, saves transportation expenses provides opportunity to age in place or offer housing to adult children.
This is an alternative to gentrification and "mcmansionization": potential density bonuses and subsequent deed restrictions present an optional income path to the current one of selling for market price and the inevitable (because it is the only legal alternative in the 83.5% of Boulder's residentially zoned land) redevelopment option of scraping/significantly enlarging existing structures.
Benefits for Renters: provides home ownership opportunities and/or rent moderation, saves transportation expenses, and great neighborhood quality. If interested in ownership, they get on a community waiting list and perhaps pay a deposit to indicate seriousness.
What are we proposing?
A "gentle infill" or eco-community retrofit Neighborhood Pilot with:
- gradual replacement or upgrading of existing structures into super comfortable, efficient buildings that are passively and renewably powered, and rent or price moderated (with 815 North St. as an initial example).
- replacement of many private vehicles with shared electric and utility (eg ski-mountain travel) vehicles
- repurposing of land that perhaps can serve the community better (as we did with Open Space) eg:
- an asphalt street that is rarely traveled, that creates a "heat island" increasing cooling bills and carbon pollution, that stores cars that mostly sit idle while absorbing incomes and when used add thermal and toxic pollution and congestion
- right of ways without utilities now (road and ROW of 60' width) and set backs (25') used for lawns and non-native, ornamental landscaping treated with potable water and sometimes fertilizer and pesticides that requires time and money to maintain
- More room for housing and a woonerf which is a child-bike-ped-friendly "living street where cars are a guest" and street space is used for gardening, play areas, natural areas, drainage-flood control, ground mount solar panels, community gathering areas, car share and bikeshare parking and other public-private uses with fewer spaces for private cars. The woonerf and surrounding areas will be part of a Neighborhood Parking Permit area that provides parking for residents and guests and ensures that North St. residents can't park on neighboring streets.
- A community with at least one coop, elements of cohousing and an ecovillage, and following the EcoDistricts protocol regarding: place, prosperity, health + wellness, connectivity, living infrastructure and resource protection. Learn more about these goals and their objectives and indicators.
How will this be done?
First, there is no obligation in this Pilot for existing owners, absentee or on site, to do anything new except participate in the EcoMobility plan/parking plan. There may be joint obligations as decided by the community for common infrastructure (eg woonerf). Goose Creek Community Land Trust applied for a Boulder Energy Challenge grant to further study the woonerf as a means of meeting climate and alternative modes transportation goals (we weren't selected but will keep trying). This is a follow up to an earlier BEC community consultation project that has now become the Fuel Switch company.
Goose Creek Community Land Trust seeks to acquire and redevelop some of the absentee owned buildings (as we did at 750 North; we are negotiating on other lots, stay tuned) and redevelop them to create permanently attainable, mixed income housing. The flexible zoning needed may occur through an expansion of the Area Plan to be performed as part of the Alpine-Balsam project or as an "Infill Neighborhood Pilot" being explored in the 2018 Planning Dept. work plan.
Owners and tenants and Goose Creek will continue to organize community building activities and enforce car/parking/noise agreements, interact with the City and handle any disputes.
What Success Looks Like:
A vital community with significant examples of permanently attainable homes available to workers and families of diverse incomes, enhanced value for market rate properties, redevelopment in a compatible scale with the existing neighborhood but with more diversity in unit sizes, increased safety, health, child friendliness, neighborhood cohesion and significantly reduced cost of living, carbon emissions and pollution. It will be a community to match the values of inclusivity, sustainability, cultural,social, ethnic and racial diversity in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan. It will be a "society to match the scenery"!