The Trinity Commons Project (Mapleton and Broadway)

by Osman Parvez

Here's an update on the planning process for a new 28 unit development in downtown Boulder. On April 5th the Planning Board recommended approval so it's time to pay a little more attention.

Trinity Commons will be located on the corner of Mapleton and Broadway and consists of the following:

* 14 affordable housing rental units to be retained by Trinity Lutheran Church;
* A 3,900 sqft church function hall
* 136 parking spaces; and
* 14 unrestricted, for sale, 2-bedroom condominium apartments (all presold).

Here's the update from Stuart Grogan, a planner with Boulder Housing Partners.
Dear Friends and Neighbors:

On April 5, 2007, the Planning Board unanimously recommended approval of a proposed special ordinance that will assure Trinity Commons meets our shared vision including 50% affordable housing and historic designation of the original church.

Next is a two step process of review by city council which begins with a 1st reading of the ordinance. This is typically when city council raises any questions it may have. There is no public hearing associated with this step which has been scheduled for April 17, 2007 starting a 6:00 pm.

The next step is the 2nd reading of the ordinance. That is when city staffand Trinity Lutheran Church will make a presentation. At that meeting, City Council will hold a public hearing for anyone to offer comments. That meeting has been tentatively scheduled for May 1, 2007 in the Municipal Building at the corner of Canyon and Broadway, also starting at 6:00 pm.

Trinity Lutheran Church invites your participation at either or both of these meetings and as always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

For more information: See the project pages at; or Contact the church office at 303-442-2300; or speak to the Planning Department's Case Manager Karl Guiler at 303-441-3270.

Would you please share this email with anyone, or group, you know who may be interested.


Stuart Grogan
P: 720.564.4644
F: 303.544.9553

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  1. All the units are pre-sold?! This is the first I've even heard of the project. I wonder if church affiliation has anything to do with it.

  2. No doubt about it - the church angle must have swayed the City in some manner. The Boulder City Code defines "permanently affordable" as OWNER-OCCUPIED (9-13-3-d)! There is an exception if off-site affordable units are supplied elsewhere or if the developer pays a cash-equivalent to not build any affordable units (no indication in Osman's piece about this, though). These are rentals, which, seemingly, will be owned by the church, the city, or someone else. This is wrong - the point of the program is to give lower-income folks a chance to own property in this (overpriced) city. I wonder what "affordable" rents are - most likely market rate (i.e.$500-1000 per br, or more like 800-1200 in the Mapleton neighborhood). Need more info to suss this out completely, but on the surface it seems that the City should be ashamed of itself for not enforcing its own laws...

  3. After re-reading the piece I see that the City has allowed a variance of some sort. It is undefined, but I am guessing that it pertains to the definition of "Affordable Housing" I alluded to in the first comment. This sets a lousy precedent if true. Suddenly rental units are affordable? Guess what City - they already are....(thank god!). Prepare to see many, many developers try the same trick.

  4. I plan to attend the public hearing on May 1st. Like you, I am interested in whether the City Council will approve the project and, if so, what loophole exists in the Boulder County Code that will allow this project to go forward.

  5. Affordable Housing laws that allow developers to craft their own definition of "affordable" do nothing to help the low-income families barely scraping by in Boulder. I'll be happy when the City Council makes a real commitment to affordable housing.

  6. There is no real "loophole" per se - the Land Use Code is very clear on the definitions of affordable housing and the ways around providing it (i.e. "off-site" or "cash-in-lieu equivalent"). The "special ordinance" referred to in the press release must be referring to the decision by the Planning Board to allow for a variance in this instance. They have most likely allowed the church to define "affordable housing" as rented units - most likely for only this project. However, it is likely that this case will be cited by future projects seeking a similar "special ordinance". The shame here is that all other projects must provide the real thing - affordable owner-occupied units or the equivalent off-site or in cash. The church is providing only "affordable" rental units. This is a real "burden" for all developments in the City, and to allow for a special case sets a bad example. A variance can often be provided if their is a proven hardship to the owner, or if there is a use which may benefit the common good of the community. I see neither in this case. If the church is claiming that they cannot afford to build this project without the rental revenue I would suggest that the 14 "market rate" units - which are already sold (!) - could pay for the affordable units, or at least some. To provide zero true owner-occupied units is deplorable, and a real coup for the church. The church and the planning board have made a mistake here. I agree with you that a REAL commitment means providing affordable housing in ALL projects. The City should at least stick to its OWN DEFINTIONS! They wrote the Code! Unbelievable.

  7. Affordable housing in the MAPLETON area? Yeah RIGHT!

    Anyway, are these the ones that are already mostly build? I think I drive by them all the time on the way to the dog park...they are right by the hospital?

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