Why does CU Boulder want the city to annex the CU Boulder South property?

For CU Boulder to fulfill its mission to serve the state and educate new generations of students, it must maintain careful stewardship of the property. There are real and tangible future needs that CU Boulder South can meet for the university.

At the same time, we know that the City of Boulder has immediate needs for flood mitigation and has proposed utilizing part of the CU Boulder South property to address them. To most easily accommodate the city’s proposal, the property should be annexed so the city can implement its flood mitigation plan and manage construction under its jurisdiction.

During the annexation process, CU and the city will collaborate to develop a clearer picture of what will – and will not – be considered on the CU Boulder South property as well as other parameters for development. CU Boulder looks forward to partnering with the community and the city to develop an annexation plan that includes a cooperative vision for its use within a thoughtful and structured process.

How will CU Boulder determine what kind of development will happen on the property?

No specific development plans exist for CU Boulder South. In fact, CU Boulder did not initiate the land use designation change under the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Planning update but we stand ready to cooperate. The city identified a need to use a portion of CU Boulder’s property as a preferred location for flood detention and protection. The current Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) update that includes land use designation changes is just one step in a longer process. Application to the city for annexation and the resulting discussions between CU Boulder and the city is another. Then, CU Boulder has a long-range campus master plan that must be updated to examine its future needs.

Drafting that plan will include input by the city and community, and will proceed through a series of reviews. These include reviews by the Chancellor’s Executive Committee, the University’s Design Review Board, the Board of Regents, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) and the Office of the State Architect (OSA). Once that is done, each individual project and proposed building plans for CU Boulder South would have to follow a very similar regime of input and review, including additional reviews or approvals by the Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting and the Capital Development Committee (CDC) of the Colorado State Legislature. Approval by the Joint Budget Committee of the State Legislature and from the full Colorado State Legislature is also required.

We will work with the city to hold community input meetings and we will review plans with the city. While it will be a number of years before we know what specifically will be developed on the land, we will keep the city and community informed at every juncture. And of course, the public has a number of opportunities to provide meaningful input along the way, including to CU Boulder, the Board of Regents, Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the state’s Capital Development Committee.

What kind of development might happen on the property in the next five years?

Efforts will center on creating floodwater mitigation areas to improve the flood safety of people, residences and buildings downstream, as well as efforts to preserve and enhance undeveloped, natural open areas. We will conduct maintenance and improvements to the trails that are used by our cross-country team and the broader community and will create low-impact recreational and athletic fields that could serve shared community use. Finally, we will create more sustainable investments in the recreation facilities already in existence with features such as restrooms, drinking fountains for visitors and improved locker room facilities for student-athletes.

What kind of long-term development might happen beyond the next five years?

Over this longer horizon, it is harder to predict. However, we anticipate that portions of the site could include development like affordable housing (in the style of apartments and/or townhouses) for faculty, staff and graduate students, small-scale academic, instructional or research facilities or other uses that serve the university and the surrounding community.

Are there types of development that CU Boulder will commit to not including on the site?

We will not build a football stadium or large-scale sport venues, large research complexes such as some of those located on CU Boulder’s East Campus Research Park, towers à la Williams Village or first-year freshman housing. Regarding transportation, a bypass public roadway connecting Highway 93 and Highway 36 is off the table, as is a full build out of all 308 acres of the property.

What guiding principles will drive CU Boulder’s approach to developing portions of CU Boulder South?

Any development would maintain the same high aesthetic standards of other CU Boulder properties. The design of functionally arranged buildings will complement the existing topography and maintain sensitivity to surrounding neighbors. We will keep the community informed at all junctures and work closely with the city as development  plans begin to emerge – again, this is a long and extensive process and one not expected to occur over a short horizon.

How is CU Boulder willing to help mitigate flooding risks for its downstream neighbors?

We have worked with the city and are looking at designating approximately one-fourth of CU Boulder South land for floodwater mitigation to keep our community safe from future flooding risks while also minimizing impacts to the city-owned Open Space east of CU Boulder South. Approximately another fourth of the property will not be used for buildings, but for trails, wetlands and open areas. The nearly 80 acres that would be used as floodwater mitigation areas could also double as low-impact playing fields.

Why not annex only the portion of the property needed for floodwater mitigation?

Again, our stewardship requires that we plan how best to serve current and future students and how to best serve the state according to our mission. Annexing the entire property allows us to effectively carry out our stewardship responsibilities and to partner with the city to incorporate the community’s needs into our planning process.

Will CU Boulder protect and conserve wetland areas and other natural features and provide some open areas?

Yes. We too want natural and wetland areas on the property. The university has a long history of working to maintain open areas as well as making significant efforts to preserve the environment. Approximately half of the CU Boulder South land is natural areas, trails, ponds, jurisdictionally designated wetlands or potential floodwater mitigation areas that will not be developed for building sites.

Will I still be able to use the CU Boulder South property for recreation, outdoor enjoyment and walking my dog when CU develops the property?

Yes. Since purchasing the site, we have removed barriers to the property and provided the community with access to the area. That will continue when CU develops the property. CU Boulder will maintain public access to the property, including trails and access to the city’s adjacent Open Space (where allowed by the city), parks and regional trail systems regardless of what is ultimately developed on the property. In fact, CU Boulder made possible the final connection for the last leg of the city’s South Boulder Creek Trail by providing an easement for the city to build a walkway across the wetlands. We are energized by the possibility of forging stronger connections from the CU Boulder South property to the City’s Open Space nearby to improve the experience of users. And, of course, all of our campus is open to the public, including to those walking their dogs (we do ask that dogs be on leashes and have their poop scooped!)

I am concerned that CU Boulder’s plans for its property could impact traffic and congestion in the area. Will the university’s plans include minimizing that impact?

Yes. CU Boulder regularly incorporates a variety of strategies to reduce automobile travel to and from all areas of our campus. As any future plans are developed, additional studies will be conducted to ensure appropriate steps are being taken to mitigate traffic impacts. This would include evaluating transit, bicycle and pedestrian connections and methods to encourage the use of lower-impact alternative transportation methods to access the property.

Where can I get more information?

CU Boulder has a webpage specific to CU Boulder South at www.Colorado.edu/CUBoulderSouth. The city also has a webpage specific to the CU Boulder South property and the BVCP at https://bouldercolorado.gov/bvcp/cu-south.