Client: City of Boulder (CO)

The City of Boulder retained GG+A to conduct research and analysis in support of its Citywide Retail Strategy. 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.

GG+A staff completed the following principal tasks to address these questions and develop policy guidance for the retail strategy update:

  • Completed 15 stakeholder interviews with locally owned retail and restaurant businesses, 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 since 2000;
  • 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; and
  • Completed real estate research of comparison retail areas and industry standards to characterize typical costs of occupancy for retailers and restaurants in Boulder.

GG+A prepared a technical report that described the results of the electronic retailer and restaurant questionnaire, the characteristics of the businesses that responded, and 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, were made. The report described the citywide taxable retail sales surplus over time (relative to the sales residents of Boulder alone are estimated to support) with historical estimates and made comparisons 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.