Client: City of Boulder (CO)

The City of Boulder retained GG+A to conduct research and analysis in support of its Citywide Retail Strategy efforts.  The research and analysis was directed to answer specific questions such as:

• Whether Boulder real estate occupancy costs for retailers and restaurants are significantly higher than those in neighboring communities;

• Whether the relationship between citywide sales and resident spending potential has and is changing over time; and

• What factors explain the recent trend of declining sales tax revenues in the Food Store segment of the retail base.

In order to answer the questions, GG+A staff completed the following principal tasks:

• Completed stakeholder interviews with seven representatives of locally owned retail and restaurant businesses, six commercial real estate professionals, and attended a Downtown retailer round-up meeting;
• Designed an electronic questionnaire and tabulated and analyzed the responses from retailers and restaurants;
• Obtained and analyzed land use and retail market/property inventory data;
• Analyzed time-series citywide demographic, household, and income estimates;
• Evaluated and summarized citywide time-series taxable sales trends from 2001 to 2018;
• Obtained retail sales estimates from the Colorado Department of Revenue and evaluated recent Food and Beverage Store sales trends to permit direct comparisons between total and per capita sales in the City and remainder of Boulder County;
• Completed real estate research of comparison retail areas and industry standards to characterize typical costs of occupancy for retailers and restaurants in Boulder; and
• Synthesized and described the results of the research and analysis.

GG+A prepared an extensive report that described the results of the electronic retailer and restaurant questionnaire and the characteristics of the businesses that responded; presented estimates of current retail and restaurant inventory, space availability, asking rents, and sales performance for four geographic areas in Boulder.  Comparisons of base rents and pass-through expenses between the districts, and to other retail markets in the region are also summarized. The report describes estimates of the citywide retail sales surplus relative to the sales residents of Boulder alone are estimated to support over time with historical estimates for 2001, 2010, and 2018. The report summarizes a comparison between total and per capita Food and Beverage Store sales within the City and County of Boulder. The report outlined policy recommendations to improve Boulder’s retail base and attract and retain desirable retailers and restaurants.