District seeks to compete with other Boulder areas
After many efforts to redevelop the Hill sputtered, the New Hill Company has assembled a plan that could reap city-wide benefits.
The NHC is working toward necessary improvements on the Hill that will make it an attraction for residents of Boulder and visitors.
Molly Winter, director of Downtown and University Hill district management, said the problems can be easy to identify, but it is not that easy to form a plan of action.
“It is important to figure out what the stakeholders want, and what the road blocks will be going forward,” Winter said.
A design charette in April of 2005 helped identify needs of the Hill and what obstacles stand in the way of redevelopment. Representatives from CU, the Hill Alliance and the University Hill Neighborhood Association were just some of the parties that came together to share interests.
“We want to build the Hill for the next century, not the next 10 years,” said Gordon Riggle, a partner in charge of community relations for the NHC.
The NHC formed in January and is made up of three partners. Michael Boyers is the CEO and Steven Walsh is in charge of urban design. Walsh is an architect and a CU graduate. Riggle teaches strategy and leadership at the Leeds School of Business.
The partners are not investors and are not looking to acquire any property on the Hill. The group seeks to make the Hill a more attractive site and to be a consultant to involved parties.
“If the Hill were made more appealing and accessible, it could easily compete with Pearl Street or Twenty Ninth Street,” Riggle said.
Riggle said it is not enough just to update the Hill, but that it needs to be done in a fashion that blends with the look of the university and the existing structures. Of the many ideas presented, Riggle said restructuring the streets in a manner that allows them to be easily closed-off is essential. If residents can still access the Hill even when its streets are closed, the area could host a wide array of public events and draw a more diverse crowd.
Upscale places to dine are also a major priority for the NHC. Such plans may include more roof-top dining and entertainment. These options might make the Hill more of a draw for out-of-towners.
“There has to be better options than a submarine sandwich when people are looking for a place to eat,” Riggle said.
The vision of the NHC is to make the Hill a destination again. Leveling the area and starting over is not an option because of the area’s traffic and existing businesses.
Plans for redevelopment would include three separate blocks: the Jones Drug block, the Art Hardware and The Sink block, and Bova’s block. These blocks would have to be done at different times to prevent a large-scale shut-down of the entire Hill.
The Hill has under-performed in generating revenue, experiencing a 20 percent drop in sales tax revenue since 2000. Even with this drop, not all properties are looking for drastic change.
“It is not easy to persuade folks with positive cash flow to join others in redevelopment,” Riggle said.
Oz Architecture and EDAW have been contracted to design and build the vision of the NHC. After Jan. 1, the two companies will propose their plans for redevelopment.
Oz Architecture is responsible for some of the Pearl Street improvements. EDAW has already taken on projects in Charlottesville, Va., and Santa Barbara, Calif., both with similar college atmospheres.
Many businesses may be presented with the option of relocating to another spot on the Hill while their site is updated.
“We must protect and preserve businesses on the Hill that thrive and want to stay there,” Riggle said.
The NHC seeks to have all interests heard, and Riggle said student input is essential to the finished plan.
“I like the independent shop aspect of the Hill, but would like to see it updated,” said Morgan Grimm, a freshman communication major. “Some of the buildings have a ’70s feel and others don’t. They should incorporate a theme throughout.”
“They should open another pool hall to replace the one that closed,” said Logan Newbill, a senior history major. “One less burrito stand would also be nice.”
A public meeting held by the NHC will be announced for November. Stakeholders and other interested parties will be asked to attend and to voice their concerns and questions.