By the numbers: What will be built in Boulder?

Courtesy City of Boulder

Friday, September 15, 2023

As the City Council looks to adopt new policies that they hope will lead to more and smaller housing, we thought it might be a good idea to look at what’s being built under Boulder’s current rules — how many units, how big are they, and what are their specifications? Re-lease to.

Fortunately, the city has hired a consultant to provide such an analysis. The data below can be found on pages 549-553 of the September 7 Council Pack. Additional information about affordable homes can be found on the city’s dashboard.

Author’s Note: This article is for rentals. The analysis did not include comparable information on single-family construction.

how many?

3,592 apartments (market rate and affordable)

2,047 market-rate rental units were built between 2010 and 2022, totaling 3,346 bedrooms.

861 affordable apartments were built at that time. Another 684 were preserved or acquired. This means that 69% (or 1,545 units) of the city’s total affordable rental housing has been added in the past 12 years.

56% of the city’s total rental construction between 2010 and 2022 was permanently affordable units — more than double what the city needs through its inclusionary housing program.

This is because very few developers actually build affordable rentals themselves. They pay Boulder a cash fee instead, which the city leverages with other funding sources to build more units.

How big?

The average price of a condo built on the market since 2010 is 1,066 square feet, which is larger than the U.S. and Colorado average.

Nationally, new apartments declined in the decade following the Great Recession, according to Rent Café. And the trend appears to have continued: the average apartment size in 2018 was 941 square feet. In March of this year, it was 897 square feet.

Average size of new apartments in Boulder (market price)
Studios: 584 square feet
One bedroom: 785 square feet
Two rooms: 1,157 square feet
3 bedrooms: 1,582 square feet
4 bedrooms: 1,734 square feet

Mostly one and two bedroom apartments are being built. This is true for the market price And Affordable development.

Market price units by bedroom
Studio: 176 units (8.5% of total units)
One-bedroom: 1,089 (53.2%)
2BR: 639 (31.2%)
3BR: 119 (5.8%)
4 bedrooms: 24 (1.2%)

Affordable one bedroom units
Studio: 133 units (8.6% of total)
Single room: 681 (44%)
2BR: 567 (36.7%)
3BR: 110 (7.1%)
4 bedrooms: 5 (0.3%)
*Note: These numbers include newly constructed housing and units acquired or reserved by the city for the affordable program.

The proliferation of one- and two-bedroom units has frustrated people who say Boulder needs more single-family housing. in April City Council discussion on family homelessnessHousing and Human Services Director Kurt Fernhaber told elected officials that three-bedroom units take longer to rent, and wait lists for smaller units are longer.

Some of that may be due to cost, Fernhaber said. Affordable three-bedroom homes can cost up to $2,763 per month.

What does it cost?

It’s no surprise that Boulder continues to have above-average rents compared to other cities in Colorado.

Note: Rents for newly built apartments are higher than rents for older properties. New construction represents about 15% of rents in the city. For this reason, the averages below are more expensive than actual boulder rentals.

Average rents for newly built apartments (market)
Studio: $1,926
One bedroom: $2,522
2BR: $3,325
3BR: $4,721
4 bedroom: $6,543

Also unsurprisingly, the cost of a bedroom goes down (slightly) when more people share housing.

Oddly enough, this does not apply to four-bedroom rentals, but the sample size is so small that it may skew the numbers. Only 24 four-bedroom residences (for a total of 96 bedrooms) were built during the 12-year period.

The city also added five such units to its affordable housing portfolio in 2011; Nothing has been added, built or maintained since then, according to the dashboard.

Average rents per bedroom (market)
Studio: $1,926
One bedroom: $2,522
2BR: $1,662
3BR: $1,573
4 bedroom: $1,635

Data on affordable rents is more complex. Rents are based on the income of the tenants. Each year, the city sets maximum rents by income bracket and family size.

See Boulder income + rent limits for 2023

The practice has been criticized because it links fluctuations in rent to average income in the area: the more people in Boulder, the higher the rents, even at affordable prices. So income gains at the top level can equate to higher rents for lower-wage earners, regardless of whether they actually make more money or not.

Maximum reasonable rents in 2023 range from $465 per month (for a studio) to $3,082 (for four-bedroom apartments). Most of the rents are designed for households earning 60% of the median median income, staff told the City Council last week: $79,680 for a family of four; They will pay, at most, $1,794 for a two-bedroom apartment that is affordable according to city guidelines.

if you go:
The City Council will vote to adopt new density and zoning regulations aimed at encouraging more smaller housing.

6 pm Thursday 21 September
Penfield Tate II Municipal Building (1777 Broadway)
Watch online, YouTube or Channel 8 (TV)

Register to speak at the public hearing

– Shay Castle, @shayshinecastle

Help make the rhythm better. Was there a perspective we missed, or facts we didn’t take into account? Email your ideas to

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Growth and development Living Affordable housing Apartments boulder city ​​Council Boulder City development Housing Rentals

Growth and development Living Affordable housing Apartments boulder city ​​Council Boulder City development Housing Rentals

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