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Boulder Residents Are Concerned As Google Looks To Massively Increase Their Presence in Colorado

January 2, 2015 - Written By John Anon

Google is a big company. There is no doubt about that and one of the issues with being a big (and growing) company is that you constantly need room to grow. As Google gets bigger, its current resources (like campuses) become limited. This is exactly the case in Boulder, Colorado. The Search giant currently has a base there with roughly 340 employees. However, Google have been for some time planning on changing this. The company has been making moves to extend its presence in Boulder with Google putting forward plans to build a new campus in Boulder, containing three new office buildings. Each building will be a four-story block and together the three will allow Google to increase its workforce in the area to roughly 1500. Basically, five times what it currently is.

On the face of it, this might seem like a good move for Boulder (and Google is certainly claiming so), however it seems locals are not so convinced. As the project moves forward, more locals and residents are starting to note that they worry the Google expansion will have a negative impact for the area. With the introduction of five times as many tech workers (and all concentrated in one zone) has raised a number of concerns. For instance, the primary concern is like (like San Francisco) locals are worried house prices will significantly increase, effectively pricing out Boulder’s already present lower and middle earning families. This is a trend which has already been seeing in other tech zones in California and as such Boulder does have some weight to its worries. Locals are also arguing that such an influx of new workings to one place will inevitably cause traffic problems. Google have tried to offer some reassurance to the traffic problem by suggesting that due to the new campus locations many workers will be encouraged to take public transport. Furthermore, a less obvious concern raised by locals recently, is how insular the new Google campus will be. Google are known for including a wealth of activity and services within their buildings and the locals are concerned that due to the closed-door nature, this will cause some disharmony in the local area. As such, it was originally suggested by a local board member that Google should include retail units on the first floor as a means to attract and invite the local community. However, in response Google said that they did think about this but decided against the idea of open retail units. Instead, the company have opted to place a bike and pedestrian walkthrough through the campus offering a thoroughfare for those who live locally. To try and further recruit support from the community Google spokespeople were quick to remind that this will create local jobs and even offer a more direct route of employment from the University of Colorado to Google.

Irrespective and regardless of the concerns, it does seem Google are going ahead with the expansions plans. As Seth Green site director for Google Boulder put it “Our identity is tied to Boulder. We want to be in Boulder“. Although, if they wish to make it a long term success they may find they need to offer a few more incentives to those who live locally. As Elizabeth Peyton (planning board member) also put it “It may be luck, but maybe we created this place where Google wants to be. Maybe it’s not just luck“. What do you think? Are Boulder lucky to have Google or are Google lucky to have Boulder?