After Decades Of Speculation, CU Boulder South Land Will Be Used To Protect Residents From Floods

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
The tunnel connecting the University of Colorado Boulder campus to the Hill neighborhood , Tuesday, Sept 22, 2020.

The University of Colorado Boulder purchased over 300 acres of land in 1996 for $16.4 million. The plot encompasses an area South of Boulder and was tagged as the future home of an expanded campus with new sports facilities. 

Those plans never materialized. Now, nearly 25 years later, the university is giving away a large slice of the property to help protect Boulder residents from floods.

A new draft proposal would transfer more than half of the land to the City of Boulder, which will use the property for stormwater detention systems to prevent floods like the one in 2013, which left three dead and several hundred homes destroyed or damaged. 

“I am thrilled that we are now on the cusp of moving forward with one of the most important city-university projects for our community in at least a generation,” CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano said in a statement. “We’ve engaged in years of collaboration, realizing that the end result for CU Boulder South does not have to be an either-or proposition. 

All that currently sits on the land — which is just several acres smaller than CU’s main campus — are a dozen tennis courts and a warehouse. The plot has been open for recreational activities like dog-walking and cross-country skiing since the initial purchase. It would reopen for those recreational activities after the flood mitigation facilities are built. 

CU has also agreed to build housing for university faculty, staff and students once Boulder’s construction is finished. 

The plan needs approval from both the University of Colorado Board of Regents and the Boulder City Council before it can progress.