Monday marks the start of a giant, nearly two-year redevelopment project in the heart of downtown Boulder that has some neighboring merchants concerned.
Construction workers are expected to begin fencing off the former Daily Camera property in preparation for the 1048 Pearl St. building's demolition.
It will begin a planned 22-month construction period for PearlWest, the $110 million commercial development to replace the Camera's former buildings at 1048 Pearl and 1023 Walnut St., which are connected by an elevated walkway that spans an alley.
Some business owners, however, are worried about not only the scope and duration of the massive development but also the timing — several construction projects are going on in the blocks west of the Pearl Street Mall.
"I want it to work; I want things to grow; I'm not afraid of change, but I think this is catastrophic," said Mikki Rainey, who has owned Classic Facets, an antique jewelry store at 942 Pearl St., for 29 years. "This is going to hurt a lot of people, a lot of jobs, a lot of sales tax."
Officials for the city of Boulder, which is in the midst of its own seven-month "streetscaping" project in the west Pearl area, say they're working with the various developers to ensure that pedestrian and vehicle access remains open.
"It's a little bit of a challenge because you only have a certain amount of space and you have to provide for pedestrians, vehicles and construction, and they're all being done in a small space," said Ashlee Herring, spokeswoman and events coordinator for Boulder's downtown and University Hill management division.
Demolition on PearlWest's Pearl Street building likely will start a few days after May 12, said Dan Schuetz, project manager for Nichols Partnership, the Denver-based developer of PearlWest.
Once the Pearl Street building comes down — an effort scheduled to take four weeks — workers will start demolishing the Walnut Street building, he said.
After the work begins on Walnut, crews will start installing the shoring system in preparation for excavations that will go 40 feet deep on the Pearl property and 25 feet deep on the Walnut side, Schuetz said.
Plans for the 160,000-square-foot retail and office building include three levels of below-grade parking on the Pearl property and one level of below-grade parking on the Walnut site. The Pearl lot will have 220 parking spaces, and the Walnut side will have a 62-space automated parking system.
The Pearl side also is designed to house a movie theater that will operate in two levels below-grade.
Excavation is expected to start the first week of August with a scheduled completion date of Oct. 22, Schuetz said. Foundation work has a scheduled start date of Nov. 1, he said.
The below-grade work is expected to continue for a few months with above-grade work starting in March 2015, he said.
If the project moves forward as scheduled, PearlWest should be completed by March 2016.
Rainey said she already has seen a 30 percent drop in sales since the Boulder streetscaping and 901 Pearl St. redevelopment started earlier this year.
"I really don't know until I see what's going to happen," she said, referencing PearlWest and the planned infill project at 909 Walnut. "I think it's going to have a big impact; people are going to see this wall of construction, and I don't think they're going to come down to the west end."
The Downtown Boulder Business Improvement District on Wednesday launched Wild West End Wednesdays, a promotional effort that runs through Aug. 27, said Terri Takata-Smith, a spokeswoman for Downtown Boulder Inc. Participating businesses will offer special events and sales.
Additional details about Wild West End Wednesdays are available at thewestendboulder.com.
"The goal is to remind people how many wonderful shops and restaurants can be found just west of the bricks," Takata-Smith said, adding that Downtown Boulder Inc. also plans to feature west end businesses on its lovethelocal.com site.
Nichols Partnership paid $13.5 million for the former Daily Camera property in 2012, acquiring the buildings from Los Angeles-based Karlin Real Estate. Karlin paid $9 million for the property in 2010 and spent the following two years developing plans and eventually gaining city approval for the project.
The Camera operated off 11th and Pearl streets for 119 years before moving its operations to 5450 Western Ave. in early 2011.
Contact Camera Business Writer Alicia Wallace at 303-473-1332 or email@example.com.