The building will provide permanent shelter to 31 chronically homeless people.
A mural on the exterior wall facing Broadway will show a hot-air balloon above the Boulder foothills.
"A Higher Perspective," by Boulder muralist Sally Eckert, was commissioned by Boulder Housing Partners and Art@1175, a community group working to incorporate public art into the design of the apartment building.
The permanently affordable housing project at 1175 Lee Hill Drive sparked significant neighborhood opposition when it was first proposed by Boulder Housing Partners. The housing authority decided to include public art into the building after discussions with community members about how to help the building be a good neighbor and provide broader community benefit.
The 32-foot mural, which is being paid for with a $10,000 grant from the Boulder Arts Commission, is scheduled to be installed in August.
Eckert, who lives and has her studio in north Boulder, said she wanted to give viewers a sense of being in the hot-air balloon, looking at the landscape from above, rather than seeing a balloon far away in the distance.
"North Boulder has all these different demographics, and the question is, 'How do you work together as a community?' " Eckert said. "How do you look at community from the big picture?"
Eckert said most of the murals she does are in private homes, where they are seen by just a few people. When she heard that Boulder Housing Partners and Art@1175 were looking for submissions for a mural on the Broadway housing project, she jumped at the chance to do something for the broader community.
"When you get to do a mural for an everyday person who will get to experience it, that's a great opportunity," she said. "My view is that through art you can unify people. Now everyone gets to participate and enjoy it. Art unifies a community."
Danielle Vachon, assistant project manager for 1175 Lee Hill, said BHP hopes the mural becomes an iconic part of the northern entrance into Boulder.
"When people come into north Boulder, they are going to know it as the building with the hot-air balloon," she said.
BHP and Art@1175 did a call for entries, but they looked specifically for local artists.
In the first round, the selection committee reviewed 22 designs from 11 artists. Four artists then were given $300 each to come up with an additional four designs.
Eckert's hot-air balloon was the winner.
"It was very uplifting, both for the residents and for the community," Vachon said.
BHP and Art@1175 are in the process of selecting an artist to create a metal sculpture that will serve as the building's bike rack.
The building is scheduled to open in September, with a grand opening celebration in October.