Downtown Boulder once again could be home to a movie theater.

The latest redevelopment plans for the former Daily Camera property include a 13,000-square-foot art-house cinema in addition to the proposed retail, restaurant and office uses that would fill the proposed 160,000-square-foot, four-story building off 11th and Pearl streets, according to site review documents submitted Monday.

"This redevelopment recognizes the importance of an active and economically strong downtown as the concentrated center of the city of Boulder and the associated social interaction of residents as they live, work and play," officials with property owner property owner Karlin Real Estate wrote in the site review application. "This development is both the end of the Pearl Street Mall and the beginning of (Pearl Street's) West End.

"The proposed uses are appropriate in this transition: office to accommodate a demand for large floor plate office space and the associated increase in employees downtown, retail to continue the Pearl Street experience and a planned theater use, consistent with the entertainment function of the West End neighborhood."

The site review submission comes five months after Karlin received the Boulder Planning Board's blessing -- with conditions -- for the concept plans for Eleventh and Pearl, an office and retail building with underground parking.

Last year, Planning Board members asked Karlin to vary the faade of the first floor so that the structure has the appearance of many different buildings, to make the building more pedestrian-friendly and to reconfigure the four-story "glass box" proposed for the southwest corner of 11th and Pearl streets.

At a preceding joint Planning Board and Landmarks Board meeting, members of both boards suggested the building be unique and iconic and also include elements related to the property's past, as it was home to the Daily Camera for more than a century.

'Very authentic'

Karlin's initial plans for the property at 1048 Pearl St. and 1023 Walnut St. entailed razing the building along Pearl Street and replacing it with a four-story structure. The new building would connect to the Walnut Street property via a walking bridge -- as the site is configured today -- and the structure would house 160,000 square feet of office and retail space.

New artist’s renderings of the proposed redevelopment of the former Daily Camera property in downtown Boulder.
New artist's renderings of the proposed redevelopment of the former Daily Camera property in downtown Boulder. ( PAUL AIKEN )

In addition to the theater, the latest plans include a faade along Pearl Street that features varying heights, a widening of the pedestrian alley to the west of the property, a planned reuse of materials from the existing building, and a smaller 11th and Pearl corner "glass cube" element.

The 11th and Pearl corner of the building, which now is planned to be 37 feet tall instead of 55 feet tall, also was softened in appearance by the planned use of wood and the incorporation of a rooftop deck, said Vicky Canto, vice president of development for the Los Angeles-based Karlin.

"I think it looks very authentic, but very appropriate in scale," she said.

Karlin kept certain public-use elements such as the plaza and courtyard and the pedestrian walkway between Pearl and Walnut, but the latest plans do not include an all-public roof deck on the building that faces Pearl Street. Instead, Canto said, Karlin is in talks with an operator to open a restaurant with a rooftop garden on the Walnut Street building.

Karlin also is in "serious negotiations" with a potential tenant for the entirety of the 45,000-square-foot office space on the fourth level of the building. Nearly 132,000 square feet of office space is proposed for the project.

Karlin officials say they expect the building to house 500 to 600 employees.

The property also would include 300 spaces of underground parking and the use of an automated parking system. The proposed system would incorporate computer-controlled lifts -- similar to those used in warehouses -- that would move cars parked in "transfer compartments" to a storage location where they then would be removed by "a robot."

The system would take up less space, which will allow Karlin to put in the below-grade cinema, Canto said. Karlin has talked with an art-house theater operator to run a six-screen cinema at the property. Each theater would have 49 seats and, potentially, limited food service, she said.

"If we put standard parking there, we wouldn't have the theater," she said.

Theater on wishlist

New artist’s renderings of the proposed redevelopment of the former Daily Camera property in downtown Boulder.
New artist's renderings of the proposed redevelopment of the former Daily Camera property in downtown Boulder. ( PAUL AIKEN )

Such a cinema has been on Downtown Boulder Inc.'s wishlist for years. Sean Maher, the executive director of the member-based organization, told the Camera in 2010 that he had talked with a Portland, Ore.-based art-house theater operator to come to downtown Boulder.

In previous years -- notably in the late 1990s and the middle part of the last decade -- the 1600 Pearl St. building that formerly was home to Borders Books & Music was floated as a locale for a movie theater.

Maher could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Karlin purchased the Camera property -- including the buildings at 1048 Pearl St. and 1023 Walnut St. -- for $9 million in 2010. The Camera and Colorado Daily newspapers moved from the downtown Boulder building to 5450 Western Ave. early last year.

During the coming weeks, city planning officials will review the site review documents and provide comments to Karlin. If all the necessary approvals are received, the project could break ground as early as January of next year, Canto said.

Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or wallacea@dailycamera.com.