Jake Jenkins walks dogs he's pet-sitting past the site of the former Boulder Junior Academy near Fourth Street and Dewey Avenue on Tuesday morning. Neighbors, developers and city officials are working together on a plan for the site, just at the base of Mount Sanitas.
Marty Caivano
Jake Jenkins walks dogs he’s pet-sitting past the site of the former Boulder Junior Academy near Fourth Street and Dewey Avenue on Tuesday morning. Neighbors, developers and city officials are working together on a plan for the site, just at the base of Mount Sanitas.

BOULDER, Colo. –

Neighbors, an architect and city officials are hoping that a new plan to put more than two dozen houses or a senior-living center on the site of the former Boulder Junior Academy won’t follow the same old script.

Would-be building projects in Boulder often play out like this: A developer buys a piece of property, draws up a plan for it and presents it to the Planning Board. Outraged neighbors show up and express their concerns — often forcefully.

Appointed and elected officials either approve the project — eliciting howls of outrage — or turn it down, sending architects and planners back to the drawing board with tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted.

Hoping for a smoother path, architect Stephen Sparn and city officials have been meeting with neighbors of the 2641 Fourth St. property to work on an “area plan” at the 5.8-acre site. Located at the foot of Mount Sanitas, the property was home to the school since the 1950s but has been vacant for years.

Susan Richstone, long-term planning manager for the city, said this is the first time an area plan — a smaller-scale guiding document for development — has been written for a single property.

But the property’s history as a school, its transition to new ownership and a technical discrepancy between its city zoning and the land-use designation in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan make it a good candidate for the process.

“There’s a few unusual pieces to the puzzle, and it felt like there was an appropriate role for the city to take, to do an outreach process to provide an opportunity for the neighborhood — and all interested parties — to provide input for their issues and concerns,” she said.

This is the third attempt to develop the former school in the last five years. The previous proposals –the first of which called for 26 large houses, the second for a mixed-density, 42-unit development — were rejected by the Planning Board in 2004 and 2005.

Kim Keech, who lives right across Fourth Street from the site and is a member of Friends of Mount Sanitas, said she and her neighbors want to make sure any development takes into account the “unique” nature of the property, which she said provides “a quiet transition into open space and the foothills of the Rockies.”

Previous projects, she said, didn’t take those characteristics into account.

“We’d like to see a creative and modest use of this site, low impact on the neighborhood, sensitivity to the Mount Sanitas gateway and viewshed — nothing like earlier proposals,” she said. “Earlier concepts were too big, too much, too dense, incompatible and insensitive, and we know we can see something better.”

Sparn, the architect who’s representing property owner Fourth Street LLC, said he hopes working with neighbors ahead of time will be more productive than previous efforts. He said he’s not trying to build anything that’s too large or dense.

He says a senior-living center, for example, would probably be less dense than the Academy senior facility at 970 Aurora Ave. on University Hill.

“I think we’re trying to learn from the past and create a real open and inclusive process,” he said. “Having practiced in and around Boulder for so long, I definitely have been keenly aware of other projects that have been going on around town and I’ve noted very carefully the conflicts that have occurred.”

Sparn said he wants to try and fit into the neighborhood — and, he said, he’s wants to hear what neighbors have to say.

“We have the needs of the landowner, the needs of the neighborhood, and we have the technical requirements of the city,” he said. “That’s what makes my job so fun, is taking all those things and trying to come up with a solution that stands on its own two feet.”

Contact Camera Staff Writer Ryan Morgan at 303-473-1333 or morganr@dailycamera.com.

Archived comments

Good ol’ Mapleton Hill Neighborhood Association-what’s good for the rest of the city is never good for them. Elitist jerks.

Flyonthewall

3/24/2009 8:13:43 PM

Ha! Good luck dude. You’re f****ed, the Mapleton crwod will not like anything as much as that empty field. Ever.

r_mutt

3/24/2009 9:04:36 PM

Fourth Street LLC = Russ Dalbey = The Dalbey Education Institute = Winning In The Cash Flow Business = America’s Note Network = Infomercial

RobertThomas

3/24/2009 9:25:46 PM

i made over 140k the first week with russ dalbey’s winning in the cash flow business program!

gibsonhall

3/24/2009 9:35:08 PM

Typical elitist Boulder whiny Nimby-ism Ms. Keech.

bldrbldr

3/24/2009 10:24:50 PM

$50,000 grant from the Dalbey Foundation for childrens cycling program at Valmont City Park, hummh….

Why didn’t Russ just build his family compound at BJA? Following the two previously opposed projects and former owners, that was the proposal for BJA. No problem from the neighborhood. Property value went from $4 to $10 million in one fell swoop around 2005, (following the two proposals) from Stephen Tebo to Russ Dalby.Must be those “cash flow notes/seller financed loans” Russ promotes that generated $6 million in a downed economy.

Stephen Tebo, developer of the Arete where you can purchase a conjoined version of 5 penthouses into one uber-penthouse next to the St. Julien for some uber dollar figure. Or 937 sf. for $937,000.

Another ponzi scheme?Not on my block!

lynn_segal_aka_lds

3/24/2009 11:00:37 PM

Well, it was a school. Mapelton would have a hard time saying it can’t be a school again. Russ needs to open his institute there. Ha!

Let’s see how successful Mapleton is at keeping the rif raff on the other side of their moat that runs up pearl from 9th to 4th. They’ve got two schools they’re trying to keep from being redeveloped now. High density, energy efficient housing sounds sooooo good…unless they’re going to put it in my backyard! HATE MAPLETON!!!!

Flyonthewall

3/25/2009 12:15:38 AM

get a job!go to work!

boulderon@aol.com

3/25/2009 2:32:18 AM

Hmmm…let me guess what this will be…

– high density, multi-family, wishing pond, and of course;affordable housing!!

Why not buy the land with Open Space money and make it a nice, grassy park, some place for families to have a picnic.

No, I think the high-density housing, with 2-3 cars per unit will do the trick!!

comcast777

3/25/2009 7:29:00 AM

My guess is that the only “viewshed” kim will stand for is the empty field. She needs to come to terms with the fact that she WILL lose her view, and her property value will decline as a result.

KR

3/25/2009 7:32:40 AM

Infomercial Scams

http://www.infomercialscams.com/scams/russ_dalbey_winning_in_the_cashflow_business

Stephen@Haydel.com

3/25/2009 7:47:24 AM

“Not on my block!”

So Loon, when did you buy the whole block? Typical statement from Boulder’s Queen of it’s gotta be my way. Actually, this should be good entertainment for a while. You’ll go to Nanny Council and whine and spit and throw your tantrums. Here’s a hint – tape a little sign to your shirt while frothing at the mouth. It worked for the trailer park crowd.

You should have said “Not under my rock!”

otherwhitemeat

3/25/2009 8:24:47 AM

“…she and her neighbors want to make sure any development takes into account the “unique” nature of the property.”

Unique nature = any development may block my view.

gsegiet@flash.net

3/25/2009 8:27:50 AM

“He said he’s not trying to build anything that’s too large or dense.” Yeah, right. He’s in it for the money, of course. He will want to get the most out of it that he can. I hate when developers try to placate people with slimy misrepresentations of how little traffic/impact/density there will be.

monkeys

3/25/2009 8:36:54 AM

What a pit of hate and contempt these comments have become. I don’t know about this property, but neighborhoods are upset because most developments VIOLATE ZONING LAWS that have existed for decades, and which we paid for. Planning Board, comprised largely of developers and friends, hands out “variances” to zoning like candy. That’s why over 9000 Boulderites signed the petition to stop the original Washington School project.

EvanFromHeaven

3/25/2009 8:38:40 AM

“That’s why over 9000 Boulderites signed the petition to stop the original Washington School project.”

You’re talking about 10% of Boulder residents. Clearly a majority in the NIMBY world.

No doubt whoever built your house/condo/apt (or rock in some cases) was a developer and you bought/rent that place. So in essence by living here you are just as evil. What now?

otherwhitemeat

3/25/2009 9:13:23 AM

Welcome to Washington Village, Take II. Plan on the same process, same result.

snarlpup

3/25/2009 9:18:10 AM

Developers should only be allowed to build projects they will live in themselves (for a minimum of 5 years).

snarlpup

3/25/2009 9:20:09 AM

“That’s why over 9000 Boulderites signed the petition to stop the original Washington School project.”

The petition that I was offered but refused to sign did not say stop….it said “review zoning allowances.”

phoenix_rises

3/25/2009 9:35:32 AM

And Jim Leach of Wonderland Hills withdrew his request for the zoning revision at the very beginning of the first council meeting following the petition calling up their decision. I believe “review” wouldn’t have been relevant at that point, because even Jim and his lawyers could see it was a losing proposition.

lynn_segal_aka_lds

3/25/2009 11:30:37 AM

Yep, the only way to please that vocal minority is to turn it into a private park.

phoenix_rises

3/25/2009 12:11:30 PM

Let the city use the power of eminent domain to simply take this property away from the developers and turn it into a park.

snarlpup

3/25/2009 2:17:15 PM