BHP launches Project Renovate in Boulder



  • Project Renovate unveiled by BHP.
  • Project renovate is a $78 million affordable housing plan in Boulder.
  • Project Renovate is BHP’s most ambitious plan in its 49-year history.


By John Rebchook

Project Renovate is the most ambitious affordable housing development yet by BHP.

Project Renovate is the most ambitious affordable housing development yet by BHP.

It’s called Project Renovate.

Boulder Housing Partners  on Tuesday unveiled details of Project Renovate, a $78 million plan to purchase and renovate 279 affordable housing units in this city long known for its expensive housing.

Project Renovate will allow low to moderate-income people to live in Boulder, a city nearing the point where even rental units are not available for those making less than $50,000 per year. The median sales price of a Boulder home on the market is $775,000, according to

Project Renovate is BHP’s most ambitious effort yet to preserve existing affordable housing throughout the city. BHP was founded in 1966.

The agency plans to purchase the units by the end of 2016. Project Renovate involves public and private financing.

Project Renovate’s goal is to assure that this essential housing is vibrant and viable for the long-term use of Boulder households, according to BHP.

50 of the units in Project Renovate will be found in Northport.

50 of the units in Project Renovate will be found in Northport.

“This is a capstone project in our strategic plan to preserve housing opportunities for our most economically vulnerable citizens while creating a stronger sense of community and a greater opportunity for our customers to gain more self-sufficiency,” said Betsey Martens, executive director of BHP.

BHP is one of a select group of public housing authorities approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to recapitalize its public housing properties. By gaining local control of the properties, BHP can ensure quality affordable housing for Boulder’s most at-risk citizens in perpetuity.

Dwindling federal housing funds have made traditional public housing models obsolete, Martens said.

Under the previous model, HUD owned the properties and gave housing authorities annual grants and subsidies for operations and maintenance.

Residents typically paid about 30 percent of their income for rent and utilities. The federal funds were not enough to cover the full costs, so housing authorities had to provide additional subsidies.

The Manhattan, in Project Renovate, will have 41 units.

The Manhattan, in Project Renovate, will have 41 units.

Once BHP owns the properties, it can access additional funding sources, such as low income housing tax credits, to renovate the units and maintain them in a more financially sustainable manner.

Residents will continue to pay at least 30 percent of their income in rent and utilities under a project-based Section 8 voucher program.

“The result is a better quality of life and opportunities for at-risk families, seniors and individuals with disabilities,” Martens said.

“Our city neighborhoods will be strengthened by quality affordable housing and we’ll provide homes for citizens who need them the most,”  with the Project Renovate program, Martens said.

Project Renovate will start in earnest this fall, when 279 apartments, townhomes and single family homes in six properties throughout Boulder will be improved.

The properties were built in the 1970s and 1980s.

Renovations will include new Energy Star appliances, bathroom and kitchen overhauls, open floorplans, additional storage and new lighting.

Exterior work will include new siding, roofs, windows, doors and landscaping. Several sites will receive new playgrounds and community centers to provide space for education and training programs for adults and children. Improvements will meet the Enterprise Green Communities standards and City of Boulder Smart Regulations.

The six properties are:

  • Diagonal Court: 30 townhomes north central Boulder;
  • Iris Hawthorne: 14 single family homes in central Boulder;
  • Kalmia: 49 townhomes in north central Boulder;
  • Manhattan: 41 townhomes and stacked flat units in southeast Boulder
  • Northport: 50 senior apartments in north Boulder;
  • And Walnut Place: 95 senior apartments in downtown Boulder.

All of the sites are near bus lines, grocery shopping, community services and employment centers.

“We provide that crucial connection between residents and the essential services they need to realize success in their lives and be engaged with the broader community,” Martens said.

Project Renovate will be financed through a combination of 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Private Activity Bonds issued by BHP and seller financing from BHP.

Renovations are scheduled to start in early October. Residents may relocate temporarily into a newly renovated unit in their building or permanently relocate with the provision of a Housing Choice Voucher and moving assistance provided by BHP.

Walnut Place, in Project Renovate, provides 91 senior housing units.

Walnut Place, in Project Renovate, provides 95 senior housing units.

In the last 12 years, Boulder has lost an average of 471 units of market affordable rental housing each year.

If current trends continue, by 2020 Boulder will have no homes affordable to households with annual incomes under $50,000 other than those homes in the city’s permanently affordable program.

For these reasons, BHP updated its strategic plan to help the city course correct and remain consistent with the vision articulated in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.

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John Rebchook

John Rebchook has more than 30 years of experience in writing and communications. As the Real Estate Editor for the Rocky Mountain News, he wrote about residential and commercial real estate for 26 years. He has won numerous awards for business stories and columns that he wrote, both as an individual and part of teams. In addition to real estate, he also covered economic development, banking and financing, the airlines, and cable TV for the Rocky. In addition, he was one of the original freelance writers for, covering commercial real estate for the Internet publication.

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