Saturday, April 22, 2006

Big Boxes and Boulder

by Osman Parvez


Another Big Box in Boulder?

Well, probably not.

A recent poll surveyed residents on a new "Big Box" retailer in Boulder. 35% of respondents (registered voters who live in or near Boulder) wanted another Big Box in Boulder while 48% opposed the idea. The survey came after Leo and Terry Palmos, the owners of property at 28th Street and Jay Road, indicated that they'd like to see their property annexed for a Big Box store.

Last year, City Council asked planning staff to find sites for a big-box retailer within city limits as alternatives to the Palmos property. Two possible locations were identified, the Diagonal Plaza at 28th Street and the Diagonal Highway and property at Foothills Parkway and Pearl Street.

According to the Daily Camera article, both sites would require subsidies because big-box retailers typically purchase land just outside the city, paying only a few dollars per square foot. Given the value of vacant land in Boulder or on the periphery, the Foothills Parkway site would require a subsidy of about about $19 million and $11 million would be required for the Diagonal site.

With the large subsidies required and strong vocal opposition in our community, a new Big Box retailer here now seems an unlikely proposition. The process of annexation for the Palmos property would also creates a difficult hurdle for developers. It would require changes to the Comprehensive Plan, approval from the Boulder County commissioners, County Planning Commission, City Council and City Planning Board.

p.s. If you think Boulder is progressive on protecting our local retailers, consider our former island community of Nantucket. It's recently taken even stronger steps to protect local businesses by banning chain stores.


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