BOULDER — After nearly four years — encompassing the entirety of an unprecedented global pandemic and its aftermath — in the leadership seat at the Downtown Boulder Partnership, Chip (yes, just Chip) is leaving the organization in July for a new opportunity in California.
Chip, a Colorado Springs native who adopted the one-name moniker decades ago, joined downtown Boulder in the fall of 2019 from a similar role in Santa Cruz, California. He took over from the group’s longtime leader Sean Maher, who left to lead Boulder-based market research firm RRC Associates.
Now Chip is backtracking west to be closer to family and to begin a new job as a vice president with Block By Block, a company that helps city leaders manage downtown spaces.
“I’m very torn; I’m brokenhearted,” Chip told BizWest of his departure next month. “This is such an amazing place, such a wonderful community. I’ve had such a great experience here in Boulder, but for my wife and I, our family is all out in the Bay Area, and we’re feeling really needed there.”
Chip’s role with Block By Block could mean his work with Downtown Boulder has yet to conclude, as the company manages the group’s ambassador program, which helps keep the district safe, clean and hospitable. “I believe I’ll be able to stay connected to Boulder and the team through that” partnership, he said.
In past roles leading downtown organizations such as BDP, “I’ve had to pay attention to everything in one place, now I’ll be focused on one thing in many places,” Chip said. “I’m excited for the change, but I will miss this place a lot. The team at Downtown Boulder Partnership has been great to work with, an extraordinary group of human beings. That gives me a little bit of comfort in leaving — the ship is in really good hands … and moving in the right direction.”
Despite some “new and growing challenges” faced by many central city districts — office vacancy, homelessness, for example — “downtown Boulder is really extraordinary,” Chip said. “… We have a great business mix here, a beautifully designed and managed downtown that the community should be really proud of … There’s an optimism and the intellectual capacity to meet our challenges.”
A long-term challenge for the city that is now evolving into a ripe opportunity for Chip’s successor is fostering more connectivity between downtown and the University Hill neighborhood.
With the ongoing development of new hotels and a convention center adjacent to the University of Colorado Boulder, city, business and economic development leaders are increasingly thinking about “how to build (the Hill’s revitalization) into plans for downtown,” Chip said.
Chip’s tenure with Downtown Boulder coincided with one of the more-chaotic periods in recent world history, and the city and its downtown will likely be dealing with the aftershocks of the pandemic for years to come.
“I got here in the fall of 2019, and obviously didn’t have any idea what was coming,” he said. “…2020 and the years subsequently have really changed the way we look at a lot of things. I feel really blessed that I was able to be here to help steward the community through that process.”