Friday, January 30, 2009

The Price of Pearl

by Osman Parvez
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It's no secret that you'll pay a premium to live in Boulder. The city’s limited growth policy creates scarcity, and the natural beauty and lifestyle of the city win awards, year after year. However, on top of that, downtown Boulder carries an additional premium. Condos along Pearl start at $700-800K for 1,300 square feet and top out at $2-3 million for 2,500 square feet. Just take a look at The Walnut or 1505 Pearl.

Location, location, location. Is it worth it?

As I’ve pointed out before, work is a key factor in choosing a neighborhood, and an easier commute is a common reason that people move. Living a few blocks from the office is a luxury. Working in downtown Boulder encourages car-free work transportation. If the office is only a five minute walk from home, even on days with a foot of snow, or a high of 16 degrees, it’s not a hassle to get there.

The Walnut in September, 2008

Like most cities, the cost of land is highest downtown. This is compounded by the policies of our City Council. There is already limited space and, perhaps foolishly, city policy discourages increasing density. There are height restrictions, and any new, sizable building must go through a rigorous approval process. Just like when the city first instituted a limited growth policy a few decades ago, many feel that this artificially raises prices.

The city calls the policy “smart growth”. The idea is to allow a build-out of a certain percentage each year. However, this is unnatural in the western United States, where space is plentiful and cities sprawl. Obviously, Boulder is in a valley, but the city is limited more by its borders than the geography surrounding it.

On the other hand, thanks to the rigorous approval process, downtown Boulder has very high architectural standards. The Walnut, for instance, made a large effort to “build green” and create units with high energy efficiency. Its website claims that The Walnut is the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified all-residential building in Boulder.

One Boulder Plaza at 1301 Canyon

Lastly, the downtown lifestyle is enviable. Numerous restaurants and cafes litter the streets. Throughout the year, the city hosts events downtown with live music and cultural activities. Always being minutes away from excellent shopping and entertainment is attractive. No car, or parking, required.

Whether you're willing to pay the premium to live in downtown Boulder is up to you. For some, living 15 minutes away is close enough. For others, nothing compares to downtown because it’s the heart of our city. If that’s you, the price could make sense.



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The ideas and strategies described in this blog are the opinion of the writer and subject to business, economic, and competitive uncertainties.   We strongly recommend conducting rigorous due diligence and obtaining professional advice before buying or selling real estate. 

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