In Denver, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority uses redevelopment to address sites within communities that once served productive uses but have deteriorated, are underutilized or vacant and need assistance to become viable again. To accomplish urban renewal, DURA forms partnerships with private entities and uses tax increment financing (TIF), a tool available only to redevelopment agencies, to breathe new life into those areas. As a result, the entire community benefits from the creation of new housing, retail, jobs and tax revenues.
Every DURA redevelopment project undertaken with the help of public investment, from the very large like Stapleton and Lowry to the small like Lowenstein Theater, has a positive impact on the community. Besides the elimination of blight, which is DURA’s mission and primary reason for investing public funds in a redevelopment effort, redevelopment brings a variety of benefits to the Denver community and especially to the neighborhoods in which a project is undertaken. Redevelopment must serve a public purpose to warrant the investment of public funds.
If a proposed project has financial, physical, or market driven problems that results in redevelopment being not feasible for the private sector to accomplish on its own, then city leaders, neighborhood groups, developers or others might bring a project to DURA and request assistance. Once DURA has a proposed project before it, the authority follows a structured process to take a redevelopment effort from concept to reality.
The primary tool used by DURA to finance redevelopment efforts is tax increment financing (TIF). Through TIF, the incremental new tax revenues generated by a redevelopment project are used to fill the gap between private financing and the total cost of a redevelopment project.
In Colorado, urban renewal authorities like DURA have the ability to acquire private property through eminent domain, also called condemnation. DURA may only use eminent domain to acquire property in an area that has been declared blighted. State law spells out 11 factors of blight, and requires that five of those factors must be found in cases in which eminent domain is used. This tool is used as a last resort by DURA to assemble private property for the sole purpose of accomplishing a public purpose—the elimination of blight through redevelopment.