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Boulder Considering Allowing Zoning Trade-Offs in Wake of Coronavirus and Economic Impacts

The community benefits program began in 2018, with the Council last year allowing a trade-off where if the city provides more affordable housing options, there will be exceptions for the height of commercial buildings, allowing them to be taller than is normally allowed. The city is considering adding more trade-offs for commercial developments in the wake of coronavirus, including allowing an even bigger bonus of height in commercial buildings provided the building offers some of its space at a below-market price in an effort to boost the economy.

“The issue is whether we ought to be engaging on this at the moment when we have no idea what the market for these kind of projects is going to look like in the post-COVID world. We don’t know what kind of financing is going to be available, we don’t know what kind of demand for the upscale housing that drives these projects is going to be in existence,” one councilman said.

Waiving the height restriction for cheaper space will theoretically allow breaks for business owners who may have been particularly hard hit during the coronavirus and the following theorized recession, including nonprofits and art programs that are often the last to receive funding during economic crises.

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