By Dom Nozzi
April 25, 2015
A new neighborhood has been proposed on the west side of Boulder, Colorado. It is the former site of the Junior Academy, and is called “Trailhead” (due to its proximity to the popular Sanitas trail in western Boulder.
The proposed project is located adjacent to a walkable, compact, pre-1930s historic Mapleton Hill neighborhood within walking distance of the Boulder town center. The intent of my recommendations for the project is to see that the design of the project promotes walkability, sociability, neighborhood safety and security, travel choice (particularly for seniors and children), relatively low noise levels, timeless styles and design, and low per capita car trip generation.
Providing two-car garages for each unit is radically out of character within the Mapleton Hill neighborhood, undercuts pedestrian ambience by creating more sterile facades that send the message that the area is suburban drivable, rather than walkable. If any is provided, the project must unbundle the cost of the parking provided for each residential unit so that owners/renters have the option of paying less for the residence in exchange for having less parking provided to the unit. Ideally, no parking should be provided off-street for any of the residential units. On-street metered parking is highly preferable. Should this project provide any publicly-accessible parking, such parking must be modest in number and priced or metered.
In the vicinity of this project, 4th Street must be traffic calmed. On-street parking – perhaps pocketed on-street parking formed with bulb-outs to reduce curb-to-curb width – should be at least one component of the traffic calming. Calming tactics should be focused on horizontal interventions (such as very narrow shared or slow or give-way streets, and perhaps using roundabouts or bulb-outs) rather than vertical strategies such as speed humps. Sidewalk on 4th Street must be provided along the length of this project. Any street lighting provided for/by the project on 4th Street must be pedestrian-scaled (i.e., no more than 15 feet in height) and full cut-off.
This project should achieve the maximum allowable density and floor area ratio allowed by the land development code. If allowed by code, this project should incorporate accessory dwelling units. Front porches should be aligned and either abut the front ROW/sidewalk or be no more than a “conversational distance” from the sidewalk (i.e., front porches no more than 10 feet from the back of ROW/sidewalk).
If allowed by code, this project should incorporate small scale retail and office components.
Re-Zoning (amendments to the land development code)
If not allowed by the land development code, the project property (and the Mapleton Hill neighborhood) should have its land development codes revised to allow higher densities, accessory dwelling units, more than one-family allowed per property, mixed use (to allow small-scale retail and office), smaller (or no) yard setbacks, a prohibition on (incompatible) modernist architectural styles, and elimination of any minimum parking requirements (maximum parking requirements should replace any minimum requirements).
In general, each of the above design recommendations will ensure compatibility with the Mapleton Hill neighborhood and would minimize per household car trips in the long run.