BOULDER, Colo. (KDVR) — Boulder’s city council is considering whether or not to reopen the west end of Pearl Street to vehicle traffic.
In 2020, Pearl Street between Ninth and 11th streets was blocked off with temporary concrete barriers under an emergency order. It allowed restaurants to move tables out onto the street. That emergency order expired Aug. 31.
Now, the council will consider a recommendation from city staff to remove the barriers and reopen the roadway to vehicle traffic by Sept. 30.
“Summer’s over. Labor Day is over. It’s a different context now. People aren’t gonna be as inclined to eat outside now,” Chip, CEO of the Downtown Boulder Partnership, said. “We’re all pretty convinced for the winter we want to have it open to traffic again and parking so people can access the businesses.”
A May study by the DBC found that 43% of businesses that responded wish to see the west end of Pearl Street reopened permanently.
“It’s time to reopen it. Time to get that vitality back in west Pearl Street. It really is,” Jay Elowsky, owner of Pasta Jay’s restaurant, said.
Elowsky said his business has suffered revenue loss because of the extended closure of the street in front of his business.
“Nobody wants to park and walk three or four blocks to go eat,” he said. “We’re becoming a weekend tourist destination [but] we rely on our locals Monday through Thursday. And when it’s like this, we don’t have that support and it’s tough.”
According to documents prepared for Thursday’s city council meeting, data supports the claim that businesses on the west end of Pearl Street are underperforming.
“Staff further analyzed sales tax performance for eating places on west Pearl Street as a percent of 2019 sales tax receipts. In 2021, sales tax receipts from eating places on west Pearl Street were at 59% of what they had been in 2019 versus 84% for all of downtown and 88% citywide,” the document said.
However, 37% of businesses located on Pearl Street that responded to the survey say they want to see it remain closed to vehicles permanently.
“There’s a lot of people who love the vibrancy of it being closed,” Chip said. “When you come down on the weekends in the summer and it’s vibrant and active it’s fantastic.”
The Boulder City Council meeting began at 6 p.m. on Thursday.