A couple of weeks ago a large development dubbed Rêve (“dream” in French) became the first project to get called up by Boulder’s City Council at concept plan review (see the concept book for the project here). Rêve would occupy a 6.7 acre site on the southeast corner of Pearl Parkway and 30th St., just to the west of the Solana apartments. Much of it would extend south beyond the boundaries of the Boulder Junction area. I offered some comments to City Council on the project, as someone who would like to see more human scale, rather than auto-oriented development in Boulder. If we’re going to be able to do that anywhere, it seems like it ought to be Boulder Junction (formerly the Transit Village). Once we get the BRT up and running, it should be highly transit accessible. It’s surrounded by regional employment centers — the expanding east CU campus to the south, the new Googleplex to the east, and who knows what else eventually as the area builds out… or rather, builds in. Also, despite being part of “east” Boulder, Boulder Junction is really quite centrally located within the city as a whole. As I wrote recently both here and in the Daily Camera, I think that if it’s done with a particular focus on the human scale, and with less accommodation than we’re used to for automobiles, development in the area need not have substantial direct impacts on existing residential neighborhoods in the city, in terms of parking spillover, traffic congestion, and viewsheds.
I’m not opposed to the overall intensity of the development. In fact, I think it could be much better for people on the ground with a higher FAR. Improving the project at the current or higher intensity hinges on doing a better job of curating and cultivating the spaces between the buildings, turning them into great outdoor rooms and corridors, and wholeheartedly turning them over to human beings. This is just a matter of focusing on traditional (like, thousands of years old) urban design.