What: Boulder City Council study session
When: 5 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Boulder Municipal Building, 1777 Broadway
More info: http://bit.ly/1c9vxFU
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tuesday night's City Council study session will start at 5 p.m., an hour earlier than originally scheduled.
A visitor to central Boulder in 2025 will find an active park, with children playing in a nature exploration area along the creek, patrons getting coffee at a library cafe while they wait for a show at a performing arts center, and farmers and craftspeople selling their wares at a year-round market hall.
That is the vision, anyway, of a Civic Area Master Plan that city planners say provides a "road map" for the future of Boulder's "civic heart" -- the area along Boulder Creek bounded by Canyon Boulevard and Arapahoe Avenue, Ninth and 17th streets.
The Boulder City Council will discuss the draft master plan -- developed over the last year from some 5,000 ideas submitted through open houses, forums and contests -- at a study session Tuesday and are now scheduled to approve the final plan Sept. 2.
The plan envisions a revitalized park and natural open space along the creek with east and west "bookends." The east bookend would include a year-round market hall and expanded farmers market, as well as new office buildings that combine city services and incubator space for entrepreneurs. The west bookend would include an expanded library with a cafe and new performing arts center. The current municipal building and the civic use pad at the St. Julien Hotel could also be dedicated to the arts.
Project coordinator Sam Assefa said that unlike many master plans, which seek to lock in uses at various locations within the plan area, the Civic Area Master Plan has built-in flexibility, a series of "musical chairs," in which, for example, the performing arts center might be located closer to the farmers market if that makes more sense, and the municipal building could keep its current use.
The plan describes guiding principles for uses and design to shape future decisions about which buildings go where.
"This is done purposefully to set a big vision and create a road map but be very flexible over time," Assefa said.
For example, one concern with a performing arts center is that it would mostly be used at night and on weekends but would leave an inactive zone during the rest of the week. So city planners want the performing arts center to be coupled with other uses that would make for a more dynamic public space throughout the week and at all times of the day.
A nonprofit organization advocating for a performing arts center is doing a feasibility study that will determine whether there is demand for such a facility and what the appropriate size and location would be. The nonprofit has preferred an 800- to 1,200-seat facility along 13th Street, while other groups have supported a 500-seat facility as part of a north branch of an expanded public library.
If city services are moved to new offices along 13th, the current municipal building might be converted to an arts-related use, perhaps housing the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. So might the civic use pad next to the St. Julien Hotel along Canyon. The Civic Area Master Plan envisions those three spaces forming an arts complex on the west end of the site, complemented by sculpture in the lawn between the library and municipal building.
Keeping the area active and full of people is part of an overall strategy to get more "eyes" on the park to improve safety, Assefa said. Planners hope that reduces the extent to which transients are perceived to dominate the space.
The civic area also lies along one of the highest-risk floodplains in the state, and the plan calls for flood mitigation projects along the creek, including moving most of the surface parking along Arapahoe Avenue east of the library.
Two city buildings west of Broadway and south of the creek -- the Park Central and New Britain buildings -- will be removed because workers there would be at risk in a flood and the necessary repairs to shore up the buildings would cost more than city ordinance allows to be spent on improvements in a high-hazard area.
The historic Glen Huntington Bandshell may be moved as part of the civic area plan, though that would require the approval of the Landmarks Board. While the feasibility of moving the bandshell within the civic area is explored, the city wants to expand programming to make more use of it.
Some changes could occur as soon as next year. The plan calls for the construction of a children's play and nature exploration park south of Boulder Creek next year, as well as additional lighting and clearing of shrubs near buildings to improve safety in the area.
Police will step up patrols around the area, and a pilot food truck program is expected to continue.
The plan also calls for the library cafe to be restored, along with an outdoor seating area in the north plaza.
The second phase of the project will run from 2014 to 2019 and involve more expensive and complicated changes. That phase will include developing a financing strategy in coordination with private partners and a future city capital improvement bond, building a market hall on 13th Street, redesigning Canyon Boulevard, possibly relocating the bandshell and removing the New Britain and Park Central buildings from the high-hazard zone.
The last phase, beyond 2019, includes the renovation and redevelopment of the library and the West Senior Center, as well as ongoing park and creek improvements.