Grandview Brouhaha: City Council Sends a Message

by Osman Parvez

Here we go again.  Despite a deepening budget shortfall and the strong threat of higher taxes and fees being imposed on Boulder residents, City Council seems determined to run up legal bills by jostling with CU over redevelopment of Grandview.   

The facts: 
1) As a state entity, CU is not subject to the City's building rules. 

2) CU identified Grandview as a logical area for expansion of campus a long time ago and began acquiring properties in the early 60s.  In 1990, CU's Master Plan suggested that most of the acquired buildings in Grandview should be demolished and replaced with new, larger buildings in order to provide needed academic and research spaces. The 1990 plan was revised in the current Master Plan, partially because of the City's effort to preserve certain buildings.   The result was a new plan to preserve some historic bungalows, retaining useful buildings for institutional use, and identifying sites for new buildings - including the new Institute for Behavioral Sciences building.

3) The Grandview area has very few privately owned buildings and only 1 owner occupied structure.  

4) In a Memorandum of Understanding (January 22, 2001 ), CU agreed to consult with the City with respect to redevelopment of Grandview.  This was described in §10: "The University shall furnish in a timely manner to the Planning Department of the City, and from time to time consult with the City Planning Department, in regard thereto, relevant information concerning the redevelopment of Grandview including, but not limited to conceptual plans, building plans, time lines for construction of improvements, and other, similar data. "

5) In the same agreement, §16:  CU and the City will not interfere with each other regarding redevelopment of Grandview.

6) In the same agreement, §17: CU and the City will make good faith efforts to resolve disputes. 

 Per §10,  CU furnished building plans to the City, although no doubt City Council wants to debate "timely manner."  Even if documents had been delivered earlier (utility plans were, btw),  this agreement does not give the City teeth to force CU to comply with building height rules. In my opinion, by offering to modify building designs, CU has lived up to §17. 

If this comes to litigation - the real question will probably be on §16;  interference.   CU has already incurred additional costs trying to work with the City.    If Council continues to drive those costs higher, it will be hard for the City's lawyers to argue the opposite.    

Further, read Mayor Applebaum's disparaging comments to the Camera:
 “This building’s really offensive,” Mayor Matthew Appelbaum said. “And I really don’t want it built, and I’d like to make that very clear to them. We need to send a message that says just that, and that we’re going to take the steps necessary to see that the building isn’t constructed in its current form.”
"I think we have to be clear that we’re not very happy and very disappointed about how this played out," Mayor Matt Appelbaum said. "There could have been a much happier ending if only there was some true collaboration earlier on."
More Reading: 

City Council Agenda Packet (includes letters from CU,  photos of visual impact, and the Jan 22, 2001 Memoriandum of Understanding)

Jukebox in My Head (Blog - 4/8/09): CU Extends Middle Finger to City over Grandview Terrace


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