Plans in works to redevelop James building
Last Updated: 16:17 November 25, 2013
The James is a mixed-use project at the site of the former James Travel building at 1750 14th St. Touted as a "shared-use" space because of the intermingling of the different aspects of the project, The James incorporates the James Travel building into new construction on the parking lot around it.
The project includes 8,517 square feet of traditional office space in addition to 1,570 square feet of "micro-offices." There will also be 43 rentable residential units, including one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging in size from 700 to 900 square feet as well as eight 475-square-foot micro-lofts. Plans propose about 13,000 square feet of ground-level parking. In all, the project includes about 64,000 square feet of floor area in the new construction.
"We're trying to meet a lot of community needs in one spot," said Chris Jacobs, one of the principals of ElementProperties along with Scott Holton. "Downtown is to be shared by lots of different people and a cross-section of our population."
In August, the James family sold the James Travel building and three-quarter acre parcel on which it sits for $3.7 million to an entity formed by Element for the purchase. Element then sold just the 10,000-square-foot building to the owners of Broomfield-based Tax Guard Inc. and 20/20 Tax Resolution Inc. for $2.6 million, with plans of Tax Guard moving its operations there.
Jacobs said that as part of that arrangement Element is making certain changes to the James Travel building to incorporate it into the project, such as adding a rooftop garden.
Elaine McLaughlin, a planner with the city, said The James' concept review is tentatively set to go before the planning board Jan. 30. Developers said they've met individually with several surrounding businesses and neighbors about the project, and added that they'll likely schedule a neighborhood meeting for sometime in January.
If the site-review process progresses as planned, Kyle McDaniel, project manager for The James, said developers could break ground late next summer or early next fall, with construction slated to take 11 to 12 months.
The developers are seeking planning board exceptions for building height and the number of stories for the new L-shaped building that will wrap around the two-story James Travel building. The concept plans call for the new construction to be a 55-foot, four-story building. The development is in an area zoned Downtown-5, where 38 feet and two stories are allowed by right.
McLaughlin said no staff meetings have been held concerning the project, yet. But she believes the project is one that can fit into what city leaders have envisioned for the civic area, which includes the area bounded on the west by Ninth Street, on the east by 17th Street, on the north by Canyon Boulevard and on the south by Arapahoe Avenue.
"I think so, as long as it's consistent with site review and meets that criteria," McLaughlin said. "It is an infill opportunity and hopefully would be set back enough that it wouldn't offer too much of an impact on the view from Canyon."
Part of the idea for The James is to provide affordable for-rent spaces to help balance out the larger for-sale condominiums that have been included in much of the redevelopment downtown in recent years. While the residential units won't be rent-restricted, Jacobs said they'll provide a lower price point than some of the larger new apartment buildings in town like Two-Nine North and The Peloton.
"The vision for the James is to create a multigenerational and multi-income place in downtown Boulder for those who want to live without a vehicle and participate in a culturally rich community," Holton said.
The micro offices will be 200- to 300-square-foot spaces geared toward startup companies that can't yet afford or don't need some of the larger spaces available downtown.
"To give them 200 to 300 square feet right next to the civic area seems like a good spot," Jacobs said.
Jacobs said he doesn't yet have an estimated project cost for The James.
Designed by Boulder-based Richard Epstein Architects Inc., doing business as RE:Architecture, the developers said the project should easily attain Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design gold status. They said it could achieve platinum status due to features like rooftop solar panels, the rooftop garden and the proximity to downtown amenities like the RTD bus station. Things like a one-to-one ratio for parking spaces and units in the development attempt to encourage alternative modes of transportation while not burdening surrounding neighborhoods with parking overflow.
The project site is in the 100-year flood plain, which means residential aspects can't be on the first floor. But McDaniel, the project manager, said the site did not flood at all during the September flood that ravaged the area despite The Farmer's Ditch running along the south side of the property.
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