what we were thinking...
neighborhood character, housing diversity, historic preservation, keeping our town recognizable

Here are two types of single family residential properties, one common to older neighborhoods, the other is an large lot, both with the original buildings intact.

Under current regulations of Boulder, CO the existing houses may be demolished and new houses are permitted to be as large as these examples.

When size is maximized, new houses are over-scaled for established neighborhoods.  When redevelopment of this type becomes prevalent it drastically changes neighborhood character.

Recognizing that homeowners want to accommodate elderly parents, young adult children, supplement income; and that buyers and renters want affordable options; and that developers want profitable projects, what can be done to address these diverse issues while maintaining neighborhood character?


Retaining existing houses preserves neighborhood character.  

Grant permission to build another residence on the lot or subdivide for another house in exchange for landmarking the property.

What does the IDEA achieve?


Sharing the current bulk, form and size standards between both the existing and new house, and applying preservation design guidelines ensures that the new development is compatible with the existing house and neighborhood.

The historic preservation program permits  modifications and additions to a house and property, shaping the changes to protect the historic character.

This illustration demonstrates the principles of the IDEA.  (White buildings are existing, yellow are new.)

The far left lot shows an existing house and garage on a typical urban lot.  The far right lot shows a redevelopment under Boulder's current regulations.

The two middle lots show possibilities per the IDEA.  The lot left of center shows a one story historic house with a new one story house built in the rear.  The new house is slightly smaller than the old house following preservation design guidelines; thus size compatibility is achieved.  The lot right of center shows a new rear house where a portion is a half story taller than the historic house.  As the street and aerial views demonstrate it is still compatible with the historic house.  Neither of these two scenarios have significant impact on the street.

This next illustration shows an oversized lot with an existing house.

This is what can be built under current regulations.

The IDEA permits construction of additional detached houses,  resulting in an enclave of small houses.  Under preservation design guidelines, the new houses are compatible in size, shape and style with the historic house.

Which scenario produces the best result for neighborhood character?

Here is a side by side comparison of the existing house next to what is allowed.

In 2014 the IDEA was presented to City Council by the Landmarks Board for the purpose of creating housing diversity while simultaneously protecting small historic resources.  Authored by Kate Remley and Deborah Yin.