Boulder officials, with the help of contractors, are out to prove that when a commercial building meets its end of life, many parts of that structure don’t necessarily have to go to the landfill graveyard. They instead can be reincarnated or get a new life or new home through reuse. In recent months, contractors for the City of Boulder have been carefully dismantling the exterior portions of the former Boulder Community Health Hospital along Broadway in North Boulder.

Back in 2015, Boulder bought the entire 8.8 acre site of the former hospital and other related structures, now known as the Alpine-Balsam site, to make way for redevelopment. That includes affordable housing and a municipal hub for city and other governmental services. So why is Boulder carefully dismantling the former hospital instead of doing typical swift demolition?

Well, one reason is that Boulder is following its own deconstruction ordinance, passed in July of 2020. Emily Freeman, who oversees the city’s requirements explains it covers both residential and commercial properties and, “requires that 75% or more by weight of that building be recycled, reused, or go for organics management as well.” But a distinction for the Alpine-Balsam site is that Boulder officials and the city’s contractors are attempting to go beyond the requirements of the ordinance by prioritizing reuse.

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Author: Stacie Johnson, Aspen Public Radio
Stacie Johnson, Aspen Public Radio