BOULDER — Local real estate management and development firm ElementProperties LLC has filed concept plans with the city of Boulder that could bring one of the downtown civic area’s first commercial redevelopments since officials adopted a vision for the area earlier this year.

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 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 the 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.

As part of that arrangement, Jacobs said, 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 tentatively is 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 by late summer or early 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 staff meetings have yet to be held concerning the project. 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 Boulder such as 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 200- to 300-square-foot micro offices will be 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 because of features such as rooftop solar panels, the rooftop garden and the proximity to downtown amenities such as the RTD bus station. Amenities such as a one-to-one ratio of parking spaces to 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 was unaffected during the September flood that ravaged the area despite The Farmer’s Ditch running along the south side of the property.


RESIDENCE INN PLANNED: The corner of 26th Street and Canyon Boulevard might soon become known as Boulder’s “Hotel Row.”

Stonebridge Cos., an Englewood-based hotel development and management firm, earlier this month submitted formal site review plans with the city to construct a 171-room Residence Inn hotel on a 1.65-acre parcel at the southwest corner of the intersection.

The hotel would join the existing Marriott hotel southeast of the location. To the northeast, at the site of the former Best Western Golden Buff Lodge and Eads Newsstand, developers have received approval to build a pair of 180-room hotels as well as a 35,000-square-foot building for offices, retail and restaurants.

“I think it will be nice to have those synergies,” said Tommy Nigro, vice president for real estate at Stonebridge. “We think that could work well. It’s not really the reason we selected the site, but we don’t see it as a negative, either.”

The land for the Residence Inn is owned by Gart Properties, which owns the Village Shopping Center that encompasses much of the area and is anchored by McGuckin Hardware. Nigro said Stonebridge is under contract to purchase the land for the hotel, but declined to disclose the sale price.

The hotel would become Boulder’s second Residence Inn, an extended-stay, limited-service model. The first, at 3030 Center Green Drive in northeast Boulder, is not affiliated with Stonebridge. Stonebridge operates 25 hotels in Colorado, mostly in the Denver metro area. The only other hotel the company owns in Boulder County is the Hampton Inn in Louisville.

Stonebridge still has plenty of hoops to jump through before the new Residence Inn comes to fruition. City planning staff sent the initial plans back to Stonebridge requesting several changes to bring the project more in line with the Boulder Valley Regional Center design guidelines. The regional center is the area bordered roughly by Folsom Street to the west, 30th Street to the east, Pearl Street to the north and Boulder Creek to the south.

The Stonebridge plans call for the hotel to be situated in an H configuration, with four stories in the wing adjacent to Canyon Boulevard and five stories farther back from the street. There would be 115 parking spaces spread out between underground spaces beneath the north wing, some surface spaces to the west and enclosed ground-level parking under the south wing.

Most notably, city planning staff took issue with an automobile entrance and drop-off area on the east side of the hotel off of 26th Street, as well as the removal of several mature trees at the corner of 26th and Canyon. City staff would like to see the drop-off area moved to the back of the site, away from Canyon and 26th, as well as plans that keep the existing trees.

While the hotel’s close proximity to Canyon achieves the urban flavor the BVRC guidelines encourage, Boulder planner Elaine McLaughlin said the city also would like to see a more active first floor along Canyon than what the plans entail.

“It just didn’t meet the guidelines,” McLaughlin said.

Nigro said Stonebridge aims to resubmit plans by the end of the year but stopped short of speculating about what type of changes the company would make. Still, he said he anticipates no material changes in terms of the number of rooms or the general product offering.

“It’s just so early in the process,” Nigro said. “We’re really just getting going.”


STUDIO BOULDER TO OPEN: Sculptor Jen Lewin plans to open The Studio Boulder on Jan. 1 – a 12,000-square-foot space that will have artist workshops and offices for rent. The studio will be at 3550 Frontier Ave., Unit A2, in Boulder.

Founders Lewin and Bill Goodrich, operating as The Studio LLC, are renovating the space for about $250,000. It includes conference rooms, a communal meeting area, kitchen, multimedia rooms, bathrooms, showers and outdoor decks.

“The idea is to create community and a really rich environment for people to work in,” Lewin said. “It’s a great benefit to me to be a part of a space like this, and tenant rent is focused to pay back initial investment and support the space.”

Rent is $300 for a co-working desk in a common area, Goodrich said. Co-working desks are commonly shared at different times by more than one person.

Private offices have monthly rents ranging from $920 to $1,140. Two private workshop spaces with 24-foot-high ceilings rent for $2,290 each, a third with lower ceilings rents for $1,350 per month. An administrative assistant will handle mail and other general needs.

Lewin’s studio takes up about one-third of the space, she said. Lewin invested in remodeling the total space, which is leased for an undisclosed amount.

Construction is expected to be complete in mid-December. Tours are available by signing up at thestudioboulder.com.


LONGMONT

GE LIGHTING TO LONGMONT: GE Lighting Systems Inc. plans to move its growing manufacturing business from Boulder to a 63,000-square-foot space in Longmont at the end of January.

GE Lighting has sold almost three times more light-emitting diode lights this year than last year as the efficiency of LED lights has gone up and prices have gone down, said Jeff Bisberg, who will be the site leader at the new location at 1844 Nelson Road in Longmont. That location will be about double the square footage of the space the company occupies in Boulder. The company will take up about one-third of an existing 174,000-square-foot building, he said.

“GE is reinvesting in the area and supporting growth here,” Bisberg said. “We’re proof that you can do manufacturing in the United States and do it successfully.”

About 80 people work at GE Lighting’s plant in Boulder. The company plans to grow to about 100 people around the time of the move, Bisberg said. The new site was chosen for several reasons, including its proximity to the 174,000-square-foot GE Energy plant at 1800 Nelson Road, next door, he said.

General Electric does not release financial details of the revenue from its divisions, Bisberg said. The LED lighting systems are used in a variety of warehouses, commercial buildings and public buildings.

Dean Callan & Co. Inc. in Boulder and Scott Garel, a broker at Newmark Grubb Knight Frank’s Denver office, represented the landlord in the transaction. Matt Trone and Steve Hagar, brokers at Cushman & Wakefield of Colorado in Denver, represented GE Lighting.

GE Lighting, a division of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), was formed after General Electric bought the former Albeo Technologies Inc. in Boulder in 2012, which was founded by Bisberg.


BOULDER COUNTY

OCTOBER FORECLOSURES: The number of Boulder County foreclosure filings dropped 72 percent in October versus the same month a year ago, from 60 to 17, according to the latest report from the Colorado Division of Housing.

Boulder County’s foreclosure sales also plummeted 72 percent for the same periods, from 43 to 12. Broomfield County also saw strong numbers in October, with just seven new filings and four sales representing drops of 36 percent and 77 percent respectively.

Boulder’s rate of one foreclosure sale for every 10,273 households was the lowest of the 12 metropolitan counties measured in the October report.

Through the first 10 months of the year, both Boulder and Broomfield counties have seen their number of foreclosure filings cut in half versus last year, while foreclosure sales in the two counties are down 46 percent and 43 percent, respectively.

The strong local numbers come as the state saw a 55 percent drop in filings in October versus the same month a year ago, falling to the lowest level in any month since the Division of Housing began collecting the totals in 2007.

Beth Potter contributed to this report. Joshua Lindenstein can be reached at 303-630-1943 or jlindenstein@bcbr.com.