By Sean Maher, CEO
I have been a loyal CU football fan since I was a student back in the glory days of the late 1980s. Needless to say, I love the energy and optimism that Coach Prime has brought to Boulder as much as anyone. Buff fans have waited a long time to be excited about college football again and next season can’t come soon enough.
Well beyond Folsom Field, though, there are changes in the works at CU Boulder that will have big impacts in Boulder. As we close out an exciting 2023 on campus, it seems like a good time for an update on what’s coming up in 2024 and beyond. I chatted last week with Associate Vice Chancellors Lori Call and Derek Silva to get the latest scoop.
The most visible addition is the new hotel and conference center coming out of the ground at the corner of Broadway and Grandview. This will be a game changer for Boulder as a destination for national and international gatherings. In addition to the 250-room Limelight Hotel, the complex will feature 25,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 15,000-square-foot ballroom. This space will rival anything found in the large Denver hotels. If you have driven by recently, you have no doubt noticed the first floor is almost done and the project is on track to be completed in the summer of 2025.
Just across the street on the west side of Broadway is another ambitious hotel project that is much closer to opening day. The new Hill Hotel will open sometime this spring and boast 189 rooms plus 9,000 square feet of retail space. Together the two hotels will offer 439 rooms along with proximity to both campus and downtown Boulder.
The other big development at CU that grabbed a lot of headlines in recent years is CU South, the 308-acre site that was annexed into the city back in 2021. Approval of that move took years and sparked heated debates over housing density, traffic, flood control and the loss of open space in south Boulder.
I fully support CU’s right to utilize its own property to facilitate the evolving needs of the state’s flagship university. But, as a dog person who enjoys the trails at CU South two-three times a week, I confess I am in no hurry to lose access to that wonderful 2-mile loop. The good news for us trail users is that the university will not begin planning until 2025 and construction will start in 2027 at the earliest.
Speaking of housing, campus leaders are taking several proactive steps to provide more affordable options for both students and faculty/staff. The first is construction of a new apartment-style building at 19th and Athens which is a few blocks east of Boulder High School. Construction on “Residence One” will start early in 2024 and it will create 332 additional beds for non-freshman undergraduate students. This new capacity should help relieve pressure on the residential neighborhoods around campus.
For graduate students, “Residence Two” will be located near the current family housing near Folsom Street and Arapahoe Avenue and will begin construction early in 2025.
To provide affordable options for staff and faculty, CU is pursuing a transit-oriented development (TOD) in Louisville. The university is under contract to purchase the Regal Cinebarre Theater just off Highway 36 and adjacent to the McCaslin RTD Park and Ride. The nearly 9-acre site is just a 14-minute bus ride to campus and could provide a great solution for faculty and staff who need affordable housing options close to Boulder without having to drive.
Not to overlook Folsom Field, there is a much-needed improvement coming there as well. Next month, construction will start on a new video screen. The current display is showing its age and is one the smallest among the Power Five conference stadiums. The new screen will tower over the south end of the Field and will be five times larger than the current one. Plans are to have it ready for the season opener Aug. 31 against North Dakota State.
Happy holidays and go Buffs!
Sean Maher is the CEO of RRC Associates in Boulder. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org to blog