Plans to demolish the Applebee's restaurant and build a 14,000-square-foot Trader Joe's -- one of Boulder's most highly anticipated businesses -- earned approval Thursday night.
The Planning Board voted 5-1 in favor of the plans for the southeast corner of 28th and Walnut streets, with some conditions. The approval could be final unless the City Council calls it up for a review.
The plans did not draw any public comments Thursday night but did spark lots of board discussion, which led to the addition of several conditions designed to enhance the pedestrian experience in keeping with the surrounding Twenty Ninth Street mall.
The conditions included that Trader Joe's install a raised, concrete crosswalk across the vehicle access to 28th Street on the west side of the site. The board also requested that additional bike parking be installed at the southwest corner of the site and that an entry plaza on the southwest corner of the building be moved out farther.
Trader Joe's must also emphasize and further pronounce its main entrance with direct unobstructed access to 28th Street.
Board member Leonard May at one point suggested Trader Joe's reconfigure its interior so that the backs of refrigerator cases that would run along the Walnut Street side of the building give way to windows or some other element to attract the eye. Hypothetical ideas that could liven up the northwest corner of the building included the addition of seating in the store. These ideas did not sit well with Doug Yokomizo, Trader Joe's vice president of real estate.
"These cases come in standard sizes. If there is an opportunity to add windows there, then sure, but some of the things I've heard ... are things that just are not going to happen," Yokomizo said. "We are not going to change our concept to meet the planning objectives of a particular city."
David Driskell, the city staff liaison to the Planning Board, said the Trader Joe's developers will now work with the staff on technical documents, though the City Council does have the power to call up the plans.
Trader Joe's is expected to open in mid-summer.
The board also reviewed plans submitted by the owners of John's Restaurant, which received unanimous approval Thursday night.
The longtime local dining institution is seeking to move from 2328 Pearl St. to an office building at 2014 Pearl St., which, with board approval, will be modified by the addition of a kitchen and dining area off the back of the building and a 329-square-foot outdoor patio.
The board signed off on plans to expand hours at the new location -- John's will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. seven days a week, with brunch on Sundays -- and allowed for the restaurant to operate with just four on-site parking spaces as opposed to the required 25.
The restaurant will get by with on-street parking, pedestrian and bicycle access and a deal worked out with future neighbor Peerless Tires 4 Less to accommodate diners, officials said.
There was a concern that the future site of John's qualified for landmark status, but it was determined it had already been modified too heavily.
John's chef and owner Corey Buck said Thursday's approval felt like a "new lease on life."
He said construction at the new site will begin immediately, and John's could be open in its new home by May or June. ___
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