Site History

The University of Colorado Boulder purchased its CU Boulder South property in 1996 to ensure the university’s long-term future and to provide Colorado citizens with access to quality education for generations to come. At the time of the land purchase, CU Boulder did not have specific or immediate plans for development, and that remains true today. As specified in the terms of the annexation agreement, the university has committed to making housing for faculty, staff and non-freshman students the predominant use of the site — and only after fortified flood protections have been built. Now that annexation has been approved by Boulder City Council, city staff has begun the design and permitting work for the flood mitigation project. The university will also embark in upcoming years on a master planning effort around its future site plans. 

It has long been clear that a portion of CU Boulder South could be used for a flood mitigation project to protect downstream neighbors, and the university has continuously expressed its willingness to make that use a top priority at the site. In 2015, after years of floodplain studies and flood mitigation project planning, the city invited the university to bring the property into the 2015 Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) update process to pave the way toward annexation.

Negotiations during the update process and robust public engagement led to the 2017 adoption — with approval from Boulder’s City Council and Planning Board, Boulder County Commissioners and the Boulder County Planning Commission — of the 2015 BVCP update. That update included changes to the property’s land-use designations in anticipation of future annexation and the development of the shared values and binding terms that will apply to future development on the property. CU Boulder supported the inclusion of the guiding principles in the BVCP.

From there, the Boulder City Council directed city staff and consultants to further evaluate flood mitigation options. They also encouraged CU to proceed with its annexation application so progress could continue expeditiously, and the university agreed to do so. 

Meeting the Moment

Since 2015, dedicated city and Boulder County staff, CU employees, licensed engineers and community members have invested tens of thousands of hours to shape the CU Boulder South annexation. 

We express our deep admiration and profound gratitude to those who have played a role in helping to realize the CU Boulder South Annexation Agreement.


Few conceptual designs have enjoyed such thorough public vetting as the CU Boulder South flood mitigation project. Consultant RJH produced the concepts, which were the subject of public open houses, an online feedback campaign, scrutiny by the city’s Water Resources Advisory Board, Open Space Board of Trustees and Planning Board, and numerous other instances of public and expert engagement. CU Boulder, meanwhile, will maintain transparency with its own development at the site, with the city having compliance review authority over all plans to ensure alignment with the annexation agreement. We will continue to provide information about development plans as it becomes available.