A proposal to build a multi-level underground parking garage topped by apartments near the corner of 14th Street and College Avenue on University Hill could take an important step forward if Boulder officials sign a letter of intent to transfer a city-owned parking lot to Boulder developer Mike Boyers.
The letter, which appears on the Boulder City Council's consent agenda Tuesday night, would be non-binding. Depending on the outcome of feasibility studies, the City Council could be asked next year to approve a formal agreement selling the land to Del Mar Interests, Boyer's Boulder-based firm, and agreeing to lease the parking spaces for public use.
The proposal, which has been in the works for several years, calls for roughly 200 new public parking spaces to be created in the University Hill General Improvement District. The 14th Street surface parking lot currently provides 54 spaces and the entire commercial district has 300 public parking spaces, including on-street parking.
"(The University Hill Commercial Area Management Commission) has consistently supported the project as a cost efficient way to the district to gain additional parking as well as support the redevelopment of the Hill," Molly Winter, director of Boulder's Downtown and University Hill Management Division and Parking Services, wrote in a memo to the City Council about the letter of intent. "Parking availability is an important consideration in attracting potential destination tenants."
Winter said that UHGID does not have the ability to issue bonds to build new parking garages because the assessed property value is much less than the similarly organized Central Area General Improvement District downtown. A private-public partnership to build additional parking has significant appeal for that reason.
Public-private partnerships also were used in the development of the public parking garage under the St. Julien Hotel and the Randolph Center parking garage at 11th and Walnut streets.
The proposal calls for UHGID to sell the parking lot to Del Mar Interests for $1 and to lease back the public parking spaces for 40 years, with 90 percent of parking proceeds going to the developer. At the end of the 40-year lease term, the parking spaces would be transferred to UHGID ownership.
The proposal is not limited to the 14th Street site.
Del Mar Interests has options on two adjacent properties, 1080 13th St. and the underground portion of the rear, undeveloped properties at 1005, 1019 and 1027 14th St. The redevelopment of the former Jones Drug site, with which Del Mar also was involved, was designed so that excavation could occur for additional parking there.
Winter said another appealing aspect of the project is that there would be access from both 13th and 14th streets. People on 13th Street currently have to drive through the neighborhood and around the block to park in the 14th Street lot.
'Good first step'
This would not be Boyers' first project on the Hill. He spearheaded the construction of two mixed-use buildings along 13th Street and a $20 million redevelopment of 955 Broadway to build 35 apartment units, as well as the Jones Drug redevelopment.
"The Hill needs parking," Boyers said. "All of us who work on the Hill know we can't see much more development on the Hill without getting a lot more parking."
The proposal calls for roughly 25 apartments above the parking garage. Boyers said part of the feasibility study will be looking at whether there is a market for University of Colorado faculty or staff housing at that location or whether it would be more appropriate to develop as student housing.
Boyers said the project still has a long way to go, but the letter of intent represents a "good first step."
"It's a show of good faith on the part of the city," he said.