The Boulder City Council took action on Tuesday that it hopes will prevent the loss of active, first-floor uses on east Pearl Street.
In a unanimous vote, the council agreed to require, moving forward, that first floors along Pearl Street between 18th and Folsom streets are dedicated either to retail, dining, entertainment or “personal service” uses.
The action is aimed not only at promoting the uses identified in the ordinance the council approved Tuesday, but also at limiting the development of luxury residential properties on east Pearl Street.
In fact, the action was prompted earlier this year by news that five retail spots on east Pearl Street will be razed and replaced with a planned 17 units of luxury housing.
Councilwoman Jill Adler Grano proposed in March that the council pursue an ordinance that would require ground-floor retail, at least 25 feet deep, on parcels that front Pearl Street between 18th and Folsom streets. Her colleagues agreed with the idea.
Now that the ordinance has been approved, the council won’t undo the 17 units already in the pipeline, but it will ensure that first floors along the stretch in question don’t get converted to residential in the future.
“The section between 18th and Folsom, I do believe, is an important retail zone for us,” said Grano, noting that the stretch is also a connector to shopping on 29th Street and in Boulder Junction.
“Over the years, we’ve lost retail and commercial on some of our side streets, and so Pearl Street is kind of what we have left. The rapid conversion to luxury residential — we received feedback from lots of community members that that wasn’t what they wanted.”
Mayor Pro Tem Aaron Brockett said: “Hopefully, this ordinance will help move that district into a pedestrian-friendly, vibrant retail-sector kind of direction.”
This City Council and previous Boulder councils have talked a lot about wanting to create “walkable neighborhoods,” and Mayor Suzanne Jones said she felt the east Pearl ordinance showed the city is “starting to walk our talk” on walkability.
Alex Burness: 303-473-1389, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/alex_burness