Food Hall and Library for Gunbarrel?

Sounds terrific, right? But if the title were “Yet Another Apartment/Office/Retail Development for Gunbarrel,” you might be less enthused.

It’s both. Yesterday I went to an open house where a redevelopment concept for the 2.5 acre site owned by the Williams family was introduced, to be called Mockingbird, after a long-gone restaurant on the property. It’s in the conceptual stage, and the concept will be presented to the City of Boulder on Monday. At that point whatever documents were presented will be public, and we can all read them. If I can find them online, I’ll post a link.

Disclosure: Petur Williams, who’s involved in this development and is the father of the two principals, is a friend of mine. We played tennis last night at the Boulder Country Club and drank beers while watching the Cubs beat the Nationals.

The property in question is shown on this map (my map, not theirs):

The existing squarish building is for offices, the most well-known of which is Green Dream Cannabis, also owned by the Williams’s (not sure who exactly). The open house was in a large office next door to Green Dream.

Only a few details of this project are known at this point, and all of them are subject to change, since the project is only in the conceptual stage. I understand that no architectural plans have yet been drawn up, only rough sketches. Right now, the thinking is 40,000 sq. ft. residences, 15,000 offices, 13,500 food hall, and 6,500 retail. Also, I was told orally that there will be a 1,000 sq. ft. library, just big enough to pick up and return books and do a little browsing. That depends on whether the Boulder Library is interested, of course.

Like the Rayback Collective, Mockingbird will be on a bike path, easily accessed from both sides of Lookout Rd.

A food hall is not a food court, which is what you typically see in a shopping mall, filled mostly with fast-food franchises. Rather, a food hall is more like local food trucks without the the trucks and with a liquor license. Also, you usually just eat in a food court and leave, whereas in a food hall you hang around. They’ve been popular in Europe for years, and are now catching on in the US. There’s an article in the NY Times that explains the whole thing.

This development can’t actually be stopped, if that’s what you’re thinking, because it’s a commercial property and it’s already developed. That rectangle on the map that appears to be a foundation is in fact just that. There was a restaurant building on the site that was torn down. The existing foundation was poured in 2007 for dental offices, but the recession killed the project. But the development can be influenced, perhaps by attending and participating in the City meetings that will ensue over the next year or so.

One thing I did get from yesterday’s open house is that the developers really want this project to be first class, not at all like boring and ugly Gunbarrel Center. One interesting twist is the the Williams family lives right next to the property (see map, above), so they’re not the typical absentee, carpetbagger, developers. This new building will be what they see when they look west, so I’m sure they want it to look pretty good. In fact, they want it to screen what they see now. George Williams, Petur’s son and one of the principals, joked that, in this case, the BY in NIMBY is literally his back yard.

George told me that they’ll be doing these open houses every Thursday. So, next week I guess you can drop by, take a look at what they sent to the City, drink wine, eat some food, and talk to George.

I’ll post more here or in another article once I learn more.