Courtesy of Academy Boulder

Academy Boulder Expands to Mapleton Hill




It’s easily one of the most beautiful places in Boulder to live, stretched across 16 acres of land at the base of the Foothills right between the historic Mapleton Hill neighborhood and the Mount Sanitas hiking trails. Thousands of acres of open space right out the back door.


Not to mention a 75-foot-long pool with four swimming lanes. A warm-water therapy pool. A private movie theater, grand ballroom, private hair salon, 3,000-square-foot gym, sprawling porches and multiple on-site, high-quality dining rooms with private chefs. Boulder’s got more than its fair share of luxurious homes, but this one’s hard to top.


This one also happens to be a retirement community.


Courtesy of Academy Boulder


It’s the newest location for Academy, an elevated retirement establishment that has been a part of Boulder for decades. It’s celebrating its 25th birthday this summer.


Academy at Mapleton Hill has been nine years in the making, and it’s finally scheduled for completion this summer.


“We’re taking what we learned over 25 years and one of the most beautiful spots in Colorado, and we’re merging those two together,” says Gary Berg, founder and owner of Academy Boulder.


Berg was part of the original group that founded Academy. In the 1990s, he was practicing law in Boulder, and one of his clients was worried about moving away from his aging parents. The client told Berg he would feel much better if he could move them into an amazing retirement community where they’d be excited to live.


A keystone of that: restaurant-worthy food that not only would please the residents, but would also be tasty enough to encourage friends and family to visit frequently. Food that would turn the retirement community into a culinary destination.


“Food is where our community is based. People love to gather around food, and even more so if the food is really good,” Berg says.


Courtesy of Academy Boulder


That sparked the idea for what would become Academy about a decade later.


Berg enlisted the expertise of Boulder restaurateur Joe Romano (you might recognize his name from Brasserie TenTen, The Med and Via Perla) to oversee the food, instead of hiring an outside caterer or food prep company.


Academy University Hill


The first location (Academy University Hill) opened in a historic building near Chautauqua Park, in what used to be a private girls’ school. The school, built in 1892, was one of the first buildings in that part of Boulder, built six years before the Chautauqua.


Although it was a school, it feels homey, with 53 independent and assisted residences on more than three acres. The 125-year-old building is just one block (Please check this source. It is not just one block away, although it is close, it is several blocks off of Baseline)from Chautauqua Park (and the Colorado Music Festival and all those hiking trails). Academy University Hill also has its own historic chapel hall—a 3,500-square-foot building glowing with stained glass. A relationship with the University of Colorado College of Music means residents get to attend about 160 musical events at their very own hall every year.


“Especially as they age and have mobility issues, they appreciate a great concert without having to step outside, and music is very beneficial to people as they age,” Berg says.


Courtesy of Academy Boulder


In addition, Academy University Hill has an outdoor dining space with a fish-filled stream, historic arches and mature landscaping.


“So many retirement communities end up on the outskirts of town, as opposed to in the middle of everything,” Berg says. “But this building and city block were among the first things in Boulder to be developed, and everything was built around it. It’s truly the heart and center of Boulder.”


Academy Bella Vista 


Eighteen years ago, Academy opened a second, specialty location just a block off 28th Street and Colorado Avenue. This spot is small, with just 10 suites, and it’s surrounded by a secure fence. The reason: Academy Bella Vista is what’s known as a memory-care home, for people with memory or cognitive challenges who are at risk of fleeing and could be in danger if they exited the property.


Berg’s own mother-in-law inspired this property, after she left Academy in the middle of the night.


“We knew she wasn’t safe anymore, and we needed something smaller and home-like. We created this to fill that need,” he says.


Courtesy of Academy Boulder


Because some people with dementia need to walk a lot, Bella Vista has walking paths and gardens on its ¾-acre plot. Yet these paths are all safe and secure, with no risk of a resident getting out and getting lost.


Bella Vista feels like home because it is one: It’s a large ranch.


“That helps people feel more content and at peace,” Berg says.


Academy Mapleton Hill


The newest location used to be a hospital site (the Boulder Sanitarium, the Boulder Memorial Hospital and then the Boulder Community Hospital). But a massive renovation has transformed the former hospital into a home.


Beyond the amenities and the prime location, what makes Mapleton Hill stand out is its variety of residential options. It houses 91 independent residents, but with 45 different floor plans ranging from 1,200 square feet to more than 4,000 square feet.


Courtesy of Academy Boulder


“People are excited to move in, as opposed to regretting the need to move in,” Berg says.


Mapleton Hill also has assisted living, secure memory care suites and, for the first time, skilled nursing, the highest level of care, with nurses available 24/7. This allows people to stay at Mapleton as they age and as their needs change, and it also allows couples, friends and family members to all live together on the same 16 acres, even if they need different levels of care.


Indeed, more than the pool, hiking trails and movie theater, Berg says the most important feature of all the locations is the people living and working there.


“We have an amazing group of people who have lived extraordinary lives. That’s why I do what I do,” he says. “It’s a unique opportunity to rub elbows with people who have led amazing lives.”


Like one attorney. Berg says when they first tried to open Academy, the neighborhood filed a lawsuit to stop the development. The case went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court, and the attorney who essentially saved Academy is now getting ready to move into the Mapleton Hill residences with her husband.


“There would be no Mapleton Hill if it weren’t for her helping us secure the original location in the courts,” Berg says. “So many people moving in were great contributors to the city.”




Recent Posts

Sponsored Business

Boulder, CO
5:53 am8:22 pm MDT
Feels like: 63°F
Wind: 5mph SSW
Humidity: 44%
Pressure: 30.06"Hg
UV index: 0
8 am9 am10 am11 am12 pm
97°F / 64°F
88°F / 61°F
90°F / 61°F
93°F / 61°F
95°F / 64°F