750 North St. Pilot FAQ
Why is this project a good idea for the neighborhood?
More community, diversity, fun, create a healthier, stronger neighborhood and City.
Boulder-area businesses, public employers like CU, Boulder Valley School District, fire and police departments and non-profits are stronger-and all Boulder neighborhoods are stronger-if organization employees are healthier and happier in their jobs. Living where you work helps a lot! Residents in Goose Creek projects will be trained to be good neighbors, to promote potlucks and other community events, to understand how they can be helpful to neighbors in supporting their businesses and understanding their needs. Mixed income neighborhoods, with children, folks of different races and backgrounds and ages can be especially vital and active.
This project will replace an un-updated 1957 duplex with state of the art, beautiful construction. It will be professionally maintained continuously. It will help show how we can add population but decrease overall car traffic (because in commuters, who add to traffic and pollution, will be preferred buyers and residents’ car use and pollution will be significantly reduced).
This project is likely to support or increase values of nearby non-appreciation moderated properties (see more below).
Why 8 units?
Creates affordable housing for workforce/middle income families.
This is the number of units needed to make an affordable mixed income project (60% to 150% Area Median Incomes- for buyers earning $46,000 to $ 114,000) work financially considering area land costs, a standard subsidy for mostly the low income units and a return sufficient to attract imitators while keeping within the existing size for a structure in this zone.
How will the entitlement of 8 units in the RMX-1 zone be accomplished?
A special ordinance approved by City Council .
City Council will be asked to pass as they sometimes do, to alter land uses with a special ordinance. This ordinance will recognize the considerable “community benefit” offered by this project (and subsequent “Innovate for Impact Pilot” projects): 100% permanently affordable units, near-net zero energy efficiency, 100% renewable energy, shared electric vehicles, no private fossil fuel vehciles allowed on site, implementation of neighborhood parking district , community gathering and gardening space etc. Thus there is some precedent for such ordinances and for the idea of “density bonuses”for specific project attributes. Habitat for Humanity recently benefitted from a density increase at a project on Violet St for example.
The Community Benefitconcept already allows a variance on height in return for 40% or more of units being permanently affordable (which is not currently being requested here although the project is 100% permanently affordable).
Why is this not an illegal“spot zoning” or a “zoning variance”?
The Council action will not create a one time windfall for project investors.
Spot zoning is an alteration of land use that provides a one time significant financial benefit to a project proponent. 750 North St. redevelopment is designed to be the first of a series of projects that seek to meet Boulder’s urgent housing and affordable workspace crisis in a way that has broad appeal to neighbors and the community as a whole. While the mix of neighbors and future residents investing in this project may ultimately enjoy a return similar to other residential (mcmansionizing) redevelopment projects, the risk and additional effort required of this project do not meet the test of spot zoning.
A “zoning variance” provides a suspension of limited elements of applicable zoning because to follow it would unfairly burden the owner due to special circumstances as determined by Board of Zoning Adjustment.
How will residents be supported to reduce fossil fuel car use?
Cars are limited, electric, shared and project is located near shopping, schools and recreation.
The future 750 North St. LLC Home Owner’s Association managed by the Goose Creek Community Land Trust will own 3-4 electric vehicles to which owners have priority use rights and for which they pay. Some or all of the vehicles will also be available to nearby residents for a fee.
All residents will receive eGo Car Share memberships through the HOA and have neighborhood ecopasses. A variety of bike cargo trailers will also be available on site as well as several shared bikes and ebikes.
Residents relinquish any right, as stipulated again in the land lease, to park a fossil fuel car on site or within the Neighborhood Parking Permit Zone. They can buy a parking spot elsewhere, potentially at the Alpine Balsam parking structure (proposal in to Joe Castro at the City of Boulder).
How will “overflow parking” be controlled.
A neighborhood parking district, an increase in shared vehicles and non-car travel.
Goose Creek intends to explore how a combination of shared vehicles and other alternative modes promotion paired with paid parking on North St can improve mobility, reduce costs and improve air quality and climate stability. Parking revenues could even be returned locally for the transition away from fossil fuels. In the meantime, 750 North St. would have a few guest passes as described in the Coop Ordinance. Guests will be encouraged to use alternative modes.
Who owns the land beneath the project and who owns the buildings?
Goose Creek Community Land Trust will own the land the residents will own the buildings.
The investors have agreed to donate the land beneath the project to the 501 c 3 non profit Goose Creek Community Land Trust if they receive the 8 unit entitlement. Goose Creek will steward the community maintaining its quality and permanent affordability in perpetuity. The buyers will own their condo units, each with its own kitchen, and hold a 99 year renewable land lease which may be ~$100 per month. The Home Owners Association will maintain the exterior including solar energy systems, landscaping, gardens, car charging, bike infrastructure, roofing and other common amenities.
Will rentals be allowed?
Under certain conditions.
Condo owners will be able to rent their units for up to 3 months per year and leave for a sabbatical year with approval from the HOA. Short term rentability will be discussed and determined by the HOA; one idea is that income from short term rentals, perhaps over holidays, could be shared by all residents.
How is “permanent affordability” achieved?
There will be a resale formula in the land lease.
This will limit allowable appreciation at resale to 25% of appraised value increase plus an allowance for approved capital improvements. Subsequent buyers will be income qualified at the level previously set. The City may want a deed restriction as well.
What happens if Goose Creek Community Land Trust goes out of business?
The land will be offered to a similar non-profit.
If that does not work, the land will be offered to the City of Boulder’s affordable housing program. If that is somehow unfeasible, the building owners could be offered the land.
Could this project reduce neighboring property values?
It is much more likely than neighboring values will increase.
Building high quality, good looking, well managed buildings whose occupants generally contribute to vital, friendly neighborhoods is historically highly supportive of strong real estate values.
What is to stop others from seeking this kind of “upzoning”?
In the short term: a lot
In the long term, hopefully nothing!
Most of Boulder’s housing stock was suburban production housing built after WW2 and was affordable to anyone who had a job. This contributed to a healthy, diverse, mixed income community which has been innovative and politically progressive. If just 1/3 of Boulder’s often poorly maintained, over-occupied single family rental houses (~12,500) were converted to permanently affordable condos projects of this type, all of the approximately 15,000 (of a total of ~50,000) in-commuters who wish to live in Boulder, many of them public and non-profit employees, could “live where they work”. This would reduce congestion, pollution and increase voluntarism and neighborhood vitality. In addition, home owners who wish to age in place could reduce concerns about affording rising property taxes or being able to house their adult children.
However, this is an experiment which has had to “break trail” through many deep snowfalls and is unlikely to have many early imitators. However, if it is a success, we hope it will be widely replicated.
Wouldn’t widespread adoption of this idea severely overcrowd Boulder and its Open Spaces?
Not if skillfully implemented
Boulder has 1/5 the population density of many large US cities and even less than many popular European and Asian cities. Population density, large or small is not inherently good or bad. A hopping farmers market or energized concert audience are joyful things. A car dominated commercial district with declining patronage is “blighted”. Modern Americans wary of urban densities have justified concerns; American car-dominated commercial landscapes and modern skyscraper-dominated cities can be unfriendly, unhealthy and unappealing. But humans have created many harmonious, lovely urban places and, as we know from well managed popular natural areas and rivers, there is a way to maintain the quality of places. We can do this AND enjoy the advantages of a more diverse and sustainable urban pattern.
The opportunity to add spread permanently affordable condo units rather than more updated single family homes but in the same basic size throughout the city along transit corridors and sprinkled throughout neighborhoods is just what is needed to “maintain the middle”. The trend to get back to “missing middle” housing is already a powerful trend in many progressive cities.
Who are the ”local investors and lenders”?
David Adamson, Larry Fluss (612 Alpine), Mary Corcoran and Jesus Bendezu (future residents), Mark Bloomfield (local sustainability consultant), Kavika Vollmar (lives at Wild Sage Cohousing), Teddy Weverka (lives on Dellwood east of Broadway), Filip Sokol (Mapleton Ave east of Broadway), Doug Robotham (Denver and Steamboat), Tat Maxwell (Cedar Ave)