Smart Growth Illustrated
Eighth & Pearl, Boulder, Colorado
The Eighth and Pearl development in Boulder, Colorado, supports retail, second-story offices, and residential townhouses on the roughly half-acre site of a former gas station. This project exemplifies the potential for successful mixed-use projects on small parcels. Nestled between the pre-World War II Main Street district and adjacent historic residential buildings, the 18,300-square-foot development, designed by Wolff Lyon Architects, was part of a larger city effort to promote mixed-use development that provides a balanced growth pattern.
Because it is such a desirable place to live, Boulder has faced intense economic growth in recent years. In response to this growth pressure, it has been trying to better balance jobs and housing and give residents a wider range of housing options to reduce congestion caused by workers commuting into the city. Eighth & Pearl helps the city meet these goals while maintaining the character of adjacent neighborhoods.
This project serves as a model for future mixed-use projects in the Boulder area. The city rezoned the Eighth & Pearl site from commercial only to mixed uses, which allowed the developer to build at a higher density. This zoning change provides an incentive that may make other developers in Boulder consider mixed-use projects rather than traditional condominium or retail developments. The city also relaxed parking requirements, which let Wolff Lyon reduce asphalt use and design a more pedestrian-friendly environment. The site's design includes 28 underground and 11 surface parking spaces, compact building design, and appealing courtyards for sitting, reading, and conversing. The ground-level shops have large display windows and walkways that engage pedestrians, while second-story offices open onto a rooftop courtyard.
When completed in 1999, the project's commercial rents were approximately two-thirds of typical rates in the nearby Pearl Street Mall, thus providing an affordable alternative for small, local businesses forced out of higher rent shopping areas. The development at Eighth and Pearl won a Congress for the New Urbanism Charter Award in 2001.