Urban renewal in Colorado’s Front Range Center for the American Dream

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URBAN RENEWAL in Colorado’s Front Range

  • Center for the American Dream

  • Independence Institute

  • Jennifer Lang


  • Tax Increment Financing

  • Urban Renewal and Transit

  • City Examples

  • In the News

Cities with Urban Renewal Authorites, 20+

Urban Renewal Devices

  • Tax Increment Financing (TIF)

  • Bond Issuance

  • Property Improvement Fee (PIF)

  • Public/Private Partnerships

How it works

  • No mill levy with TIF

  • URA assesses need and does economic research, history, potential of area

  • Any new development generating a higher increment of tax is then diverted from regular property revenues and used to repay URA bonds or developers

  • Any pre-existing structures in a TIF district reassessed with higher value, taxes go to city

  • 25 year time window for Urban Renewal tax increments

  • 25 years worth of that tax revenue increment is being diverted away from schools, public services

Current and Recent Urban Renewal Projects in the Denver Metro

City and County of Denver Current TIF Districts


  • Denver URA (urban renewal authority)

    • 4.27 % URA of total city and county tax
  • Broomfield URA

    • 5.08 % URA of total city and county tax

Tracking Tax Dollars & URA

  • Abstract of assessment

  • TIF districts

  • URA in Miscellaneous section `

Transit and Urban Renewal

  • FasTracks is driving URATransit Oriented Developments (TOD)

  • Marketed as smart growth and progressive

  • Glosses over fact of financing

  • Could be in anytown USA


City of Englewood (EURA)

  • 55 acre Cinderella City Mall into TOD

  • Bonds sold in 1985, TIF in early days

    • Currently, EURA bonds in default for
    • $45 million, not backed in full faith/credit by city
  • Repayment accelerated

  • Bondholders sued EURA to require city to pay the debt of EURA

City Center

Englewood, Colorado


  • What you subsidize you get more of – what you tax you get less of.

  • Lost accountability

  • Corporate welfare

  • Challenges: Unclear Market Demographics and Demand

  • Creating a certain life style and making them pay for it, sacrificing schools, fire, police, and public services

Belmar- City of Lakewood Lakewood Reinvestment Authority

Belmar Parking Garages

Lily pads, polka dots, retro

Smart Growth = Building up Full of infill Fancy gov’t housing? Will urban renewal need urban renewal in 20 years?

High Density Living: Look up to see the sky, nevermind the skyline

City of Louisville Louisville Revitalization Commission

  • August 16, 2006, Public hearing was standing room only, 100+

  • Delayed a decision to created a UR area along Hwy42

  • Eminent domain seizure concern

  • Purpose: to create higher sales tax revenue to compete with other cities

  • Vague goals, what will this accomplish?

City of Boulder Boulder Urban Renewal Authority

  • Tension: urban renewal & historic preservation

  • 9 historic districts

  • 2 urban renewal projects

    • Boulder Valley Region Center started 1979
      • Redeveloped old mall, $20million in bonds sold
    • 9th and Canyon
  • Next: Transit Village Area Plan-TOD

TIF Reforms?

  • Transparency

  • Accountability

  • Public hearing for community desires

  • URA is not elected, but appointed by the mayor and approved by city council, five year terms

  • Financial Safeguards

  • Democratic, rather than collective

  • Redefining need, blight, and public good

  • Reveal the true market price without TIF

  • Economic feasibilities studies

  • Ownership and private investment benefit


  • Research needed

  • Public Awareness

  • Future landscape of Denver Metro

  • Truth seekers

  • When will it stop

  • Beyond Smart Growth-the next big trend

  • Backlash

  • Stop ignoring market indicators of how people want to live

  • Questions?

Thank You

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