On Tuesday night, Boulder’s City Council unanimously voted final approval of the annexation and the site and use review for the Boulder Jewish Commons project, otherwise known as the Boulder Jewish Community Center’s new site. Thirty days from now, the Boulder JCC can apply for its building permits and the project can get under way in earnest.
Council members Sam Weaver and Mary Young recused themselves from the presentation and vote as they worked on the project while on the planning board. City Planning staff presented the project and took initial questions. Butch Weaver spoke as the current owner of the property. Scott Peppet spoke on behalf of the BJCC, showing as proof of wide community support the three poster boards with the 1,000+ donors’ names. Citing the $18 million raised for the project, Peppet pointed out his understanding that this is the biggest non-profit capital project ever in Boulder, aside from the hospital and the university.
Lead architect Rebecca Spears from RB+B walked through the site and building plan, answering one council question by explaining that the building will have LEED certification and will comply with the recently passed city energy standards.
Only one person spoke in the public hearing segment: Judy Renfro, from the neighborhood south of the Commons property. She reported that the neighborhood is very supportive of the project, and praised the project team for being so inclusive and communicative with the neighborhood. Renfro did request that council keep in mind for the future that something needs to be done about Sombrero Marsh flooding, as her house was under water during the recent Boulder floods, but that the problem doesn’t have anything to do with the Boulder JCC project itself.
Councilman Andy Shoemaker moved to approve the package, with Councilman Lisa Morzel providing the second. Morzel said that it is an exciting project, that she especially loved the inclusion of the library, and the fact that the community has been able to raise $18 million for the project is really good.
Councilman Suzanne Jones commented that the council doesn’t see many large projects that don’t also rip the community apart, but that this project is very amicable and has broad community support. Mayor Matt Applebaum agreed, adding that it is a testament to a lot of good and hard work. He looks forward to seeing it break ground.
Councilman Macon Cowles described the JCC as a gateway project, since the building will be one of the first things people see coming in to Boulder on Arapahoe Ave, and said that the community “thanks you for this great project”. Councilman George Karakehian commented that he is impressed by the stick-to-it-tiveness of the groups of people behind the project, and congratulated them on reaching this milestone.
After the council finished offering their comments, Mayor Applebaum called for the vote, and the role call was unanimously in favor of the motion. The approximately 50 people in the Boulder Library Auditorium, where the council is meeting temporarily during renovations, broke out into a loud but respectful cheer, and exited the room.
The excited and happy group of JCC supporters then moved to the Walnut Brewery to raise several glasses to the project and those staff and community members who have guided the project to this milestone. More pictures from the celebration: