The Hill, more properly known as University Hill, is still a center of student life in Boulder of course, but a lot has changed since those rather heady days, when marijuana wasn’t medicinal and a rap didn’t require a beat.
“When I first moved here (in the early ’70s) I came from the Midwest, and I couldn’t believe it,” said Re/Max agent Bob Grotluschen. “I literally saw people sleeping in the gutter in the middle of the afternoon.
“But there was a rebellion of sorts from people who had homes in the area, and that led to the city cracking down on all the rules (especially concerning rental properties), and there was a resurgence of sorts,” he said. “That rebellion is going on today in a way, with residents trying to make it more family friendly.”
From a real-estate point of view, the area still sees more than its share of rentals, because there simply isn’t a better place to live for University of Colorado students. The area easily accesses the entire Boulder campus to the east, as well as downtown Boulder and the small triangle of retail shops on or near 13th Street between Broadway and College Avenue — also referred to as “The Hill.”
Traditionally the center of eating and drinking establishments for students — especially The Sink restaurant and bar, made famous by a recent presidential visit — the Hill also has long been a center for music and nightlife. While there have been a number of music venues, certainly Tulagi was famed in the hippie heyday, none of them outshine The Fox Theater, a nationally renowned music showcase today.
Most real-estate types consider the University Hill residential area to be geographically confined by Broadway to the east, Arapahoe Avenue to the north, Ninth Street to the west and Basweline Road to the south. While the rental market prevails in much of the area adjacent to campus, there are blocks of quiet — single family homes that draw a rather distinctive list of potential buyers.
They also can be rather distinctive listings, represented by rather distinctive agents.
Representing a home that recently went under contract at 930 Lincoln Place is Susie Donahue, Grotluschen’s daughter, who joined him at the Re/Max office to create a father-daughter real-estate team.
The property — about halfway between College and Baseline, on a quiet block with only one other rental — features a historic home that has been very well kept, with a four-bedroom main basement rental unit and two-bedroom upstairs rental unit as well as a detached cottage. It’s a legal non-conforming triplex.
The property listed at $949,900, with the quiet block, fully developed landscaping, a fire pit, hot tub, raised garden beds and a detached two-car garage and storage sheds as big attractions.
“From the interest we’ve had,” said Donahue, “it’s been everything from the serious investor who already owns a lot of property in the area to the first-time investor to folks who want to use it as a single-family residence, or others who want to convert it to fully rented — but not to students.”
The city of Boulder has many regulations regarding rental properties, but what usually preserves these islands of peace and quiet are the distance to campus and the property values on certain blocks, Donahue said. Even during the last few years of economic trouble and falling property values, that has largely held true.
According to the online real-estate source Trulia, there were six home sales in University Hill from Feb. 13 through April 13, with a median sale price of $621,500. While that did represent a drop in median sale prices, median home price listings have been on the rise.
The commercial aspect of The Hill also has seen a great deal of renovation in the past four years, Developer Michael Boyers, managing partner of Boulder-based Del Mar Interests, led construction of two mixed-use buildings along 13th Street and a $20 million redevelopment of 955 Broadway to build 35 apartment units.
That redevelopment, together with a rather dedicated cadre of single-family homeowners whose interests in the area are longer than four years, has helped keep the single-family market fairly stable.
“I don’t know that it’s come all the way back to 2007 levels,” Donahue said. “I think it’s like most of the (Boulder-area) market. Things are moving quickly and prices have stabilized, but that’s tempered with buyers being very particular.”
She said the Lincoln Avenue home, for instance, “is a very well-maintained and improved property.”