Sean Maher, CEO of Downtown Boulder Partnership, to resign next month

Sean Maher will resign next month after a decade leading the Downtown Boulder Partnership.

Maher is slated to become the CEO of RRC Associates, a Boulder-based market research and consulting firm. The Downtown Boulder Partnership Board of Directors will appoint an interim CEO to serve in his place through the summer and until a search committee identifies his permanent replacement.

The interim CEO likely will be announced later this week, according to a Monday news release from the Downtown Boulder Partnership.

“I‘ve loved every minute of it,” Maher said. “There are amazing people down here. Some of them have been here for 40 or 50 years doing business and some are brand new, but they all have a huge amount of love for this community. It‘s great to see their creative ideas and the things they‘ve done.”

Maher has been heralded as a coalition-builder and leader with an eye for distinguishing Boulder from the region around it.

Despite the independent nature of businesses downtown and the differing viewpoints of their owners, Maher had a way pulling the community together, said George Karakehian, owner of Art Source International.

“It was really about leadership,” Karakehian said. “It was really quite a mess downtown for a few years, and Sean came in and with his leadership pulled it back together again.”

Richard Polk, owner of Pedestrian Shops, said much the same — that Maher represented a broad spectrum of interests and was able to navigate a path that allowed him to be loyal to those differing interests.

“He‘s probably served for 10 years but done 20 years of meetings,” Polk said.

The news release touted a variety of accomplishments: Maher‘s leadership through the construction of more than 300,000 square feet of new commercial space and 50 residential units; his spearheading the creation of the Downtown Boulder Foundation, a nonprofit that with Google installed free WiFi on Pearl Street; and his championing a variety of community events, more than 30 in total.

Maher said more than 2.66 million people had visited downtown to shop, eat and see Pearl Street Mall since July 21. Downtown Boulder has 166 retailers and 98 restaurants, and 77 percent of downtown businesses are locally owned, he said at the time.

Looking forward, his replacement will face the prospect of helping businesses navigate the cost of doing business downtown, including rising property taxes, he said.

“They‘ve gotten very high, and that‘s happened relatively quickly, which has been sort of a shock to a lot of our businesses, but especially our smaller ones,” he said. “That‘s a concern. The cost of being here and the cost of doing business is going to continue to rise, and it‘s going to continue to be more and more challenging for businesses to be successful and be able to stay down here.”

He also said the next CEO will want to continue marketing downtown through advertising and special events, distinguish downtown as unique, attract tenants who don‘t just feed off the crowds but create their own, and serve as a resource for individual businesses facing challenges.

“Boulder has grown up,” he said. “We‘ve become more and more sophisticated.”

John Tayer, president and CEO of the Boulder Chamber of Commerce, said Maher has served as an important partner with the Boulder Chamber in an increasingly competitive region.

“The Boulder community is no longer the only regional draw,” he said. “It‘s now, as has been said, 27 square miles surrounded by competition.

“It now needs to continue positioning itself as a unique downtown experience, and making sure that the residents around the Denver metro region know that when they come to Boulder they will enjoy a unique experience that‘s fun for both cuisine connoisseurs and folks seeking interesting shopping experiences.”

That is part of a conversation by the broader community, he said, noting the ongoing Citywide Retail Survey that is . City staff is scheduled to present preliminary findings to city council in May.

Added Alan Rogers, chairman of the Downtown Boulder Partnership board: “He‘s done a wonderful job of increasing and enhancing the experience for the broader Boulder community, and for all visitors.”

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