The Diagonal Plaza redevelopment project has overcome one of its final hurdles.
Boulder City Council last week greenlighted the proposal when it decided not to call up the site and use review at 3320 28th St. for further discussion. The Planning Board in April unanimously approved the application, a decision that became final following the City Council meeting last week.
The city has for years been considering what to do with the approximately 9-acre site on the western end of the nearly 60-year-old shopping center.
“While the proposed site is separate from the Diagonal Plaza Shopping Center, it is considered to be the western end of the aging and somewhat deteriorated commercial center that has experienced consistent vacancies and varied tenancies for the past several decades,” a staff memo from last week’s City Council meeting states.
The site is mostly large surface parking lots and a retail building that’s home to a Walgreens and the former Sports Authority, according to the memo.
This particular site is under separate ownership from the other retail buildings that make up the Diagonal Plaza Shopping Center.
The south portion of the site is occupied by the Boulder Housing Partners’ Diagonal Court Townhomes: 30 permanently affordable apartments that were recently upgraded along with the addition of a community center and a new playground.
The mixed-use development will include retail stores along 28th Street, community space and 282 residential units, some of which will be workforce housing and some of which will be permanently affordable.
According to Senior Planner Elaine McLaughlin, there is no area plan for the Diagonal Plaza area, but the city did go through a planning process about a decade ago. City Council explored options for rejuvenating Diagonal Plaza, which has been struggling for decades, she said.
The Diagonal Plaza redevelopment has been through a fairly lengthy review process. The Planning Board conducted a concept review about a year ago, and the City Council indicated general support over the summer after it reviewed the concept plan.
Following these reviews, the city crafted a special ordinance to allow room for more residential on site. This was approved by the City Council in the fall.
According to earlier BizWest reporting, the special ordinance addresses the piece of Boulder’s land-use code that requires a certain portion of the project be dedicated as open space. That requirement prohibits the developer from building as many units as it would need to in order to make the Diagonal Plaza redevelopment financially viable.
City officials and staff have been generally supportive of the change and agreed to waive the requirement through the ordinance approved last fall.
The Council was supportive on Tuesday, with several expressing gratitude for being able to see the project through.
“Having lived near this property for more than 20 years, it is such a joy that this is being turned into housing our community desperately needs, and particularly given the partnership with BHP right next door to the south,” Councilmember Bob Yates said.
“From the Urban Land Institute study back in 2011 through literally 20 decades, folks in this community have been trying to consider what can be done with this quite frankly blighted property,” he added.