Published: Sept. 2, 2020

Hill Hotel Project
Hill Hotel Project

On August 20, the CU Real Estate Center, always at the forefront of real estate education for students and professionals, hosted a virtual symposium on the Hill Hotel Project and the public-private partnerships that helped to make it a reality. Groundbreaking for the development is planned for fall of 2021, with grand opening slated for spring of 2023.

The panelists included Randy Nichols, president, and Dan Schuetz, project executive, of the Nichols Partnership, developers of the project; Chris Shears, head architect and principal of Shears Adkins Rockmore Architects; Derek Silva, assistant vice chancellor for business strategy at the University of Colorado Boulder; and Sarah Wiebenson, director of the community vitality department for the City of Boulder.

John Tayer, president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber, moderated the lively discussion, which highlighted the design and details of the development; the synergies of project with its neighbor, the CU Hotel and Conference Center; and the involvement of the community in its planning.

Bringing The Hill back to life

A haven for University of Colorado Boulder college students, and long known for its eclectic arts and food scene, rolling hills, and Victorian architecture, The Hill is one of the oldest areas in Boulder. Yet, despite its proximity to the university and the city’s booming downtown, this three-block radius has experienced economic decline for years. Graffiti covers the outside of many buildings, and shop owners struggle to survive the ebb and flow of traffic dependent on the seasons of tourism.

The city recognized this issue, and in 2014 launched a reinvestment strategy to revitalize the area. Enter the Hill Hotel Project, a development five years in the making, that will play an important role in restoring the area’s cultural and economic vitality.


A gathering place for all

The Hill Hotel will be located at the juncture of Broadway, University Avenue and Pleasant Street. The planning for the Hill Hotel Project encompassed countless meetings and community outreach to ensure the buy-in of Hill residents and business owners. Their input will be vital to the success of the project.

The result is a destination for the community with a plaza in front and new businesses within the 7,000 square foot of commercial space, in addition to the 200-room hotel.

Gold bar section divider
It will be “a genuinely comfortable
place—inside and out—for
everyone, to revitalize the environment,
culture and identity of The Hill,”

architect Shears described to webinar attendees.

A broader impact

Weibenson illuminated the vision for the Hill from the city’s perspective. They are hoping it will bring a diverse customer base, while also supporting small businesses, especially women-and minority-owned businesses. These are central goals of the city council, along with the beautification of the district.

The developers have also committed to helping the businesses with relocation costs and needs as a result of the project. Their team and the hospitality group that will run the hotel will provide internships to CU Boulder students and coworking space they can use in the lobby.

The University of Colorado Boulder’s hotel and conference center project is scheduled to open in late 2022 across the street from the Hill Hotel. The complementary nature of the two developments benefits both entities, with the Hill Hotel offering ample outdoor space and a link to the area’s culture, and the CU Hotel and Conference Center allowing more hotel rooms for visitors, a large restaurant and other amenities the Hill Hotel does not have.

Panelists fielded questions at the end of the presentation, including how COVID-19 has factored into the project’s planning. As it is, the project could benefit from lower construction costs as a result of the decline in demand for those services during the pandemic. And while the coronavirus has impacted the hospitality market, there is hope that the sector will rebound by the scheduled grand opening in 2023.

Events like this from the CU Real Estate Center not only support the career development of students aspiring to enter the industry but also the professional goals of local real estate professionals.

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