Today, the Hill is struggling – a shadow of what it once was, but can no longer be: a place entirely dependent on students and their spending; where three months of summer was a welcome respite. The land is simply too valuable to sit relatively idle for that long. We need responsible adults to hang out there year-round.
The Hill ought to be Boulder’s hot spot: a place where young entrepreneurs, talented students and neighbors of all ages cross paths regularly in an environment designed to promote and nurture creative collisions. If you prefer to go to sleep early or the sound of parties sets your teeth on edge, you might not want to live there, but students who could care less what the neighbors think should live elsewhere, too.
Many plans have been developed for the Hill. The best of them see the inherent tension associated with conflicting student, neighborhood and business interests as, instead, the Hill’s seeds for greatness. Well-served by transit, but still somewhat dependent on the automobile, underground parking, first floor retail, second floor office and upper floor workforce and student housing will all be needed to create the critical mass essential to make this potential university village/neighborhood center thrive.
The streetscape and the bricks and mortar should reflect every Hill constituency (including neighbors, empty-nesters and families), students, faculty, and university employees), plus offices, retail, and restaurants prepared to feed off each other. The sooner, the better.