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. If condemnation is used, a private property owner must be justly compensated for their property, meaning they must be paid fair market value for the property.  While eminent domain also is used by other state and local entities for various purposes, this section deals only with eminent domain as an urban renewal tool.

In cases where agreement is not reached with the landowner to participate in a project, DURA works to reach a fair and equitable purchase price for the property.  However, in those cases where the parties cannot agree on the price, eminent domain may be used by DURA.  In general, if DURA intends to use eminent domain and transfer the property to a private party to achieve the public purpose, DURA must first:

  • Obtain Denver City Council’s determination that the property is itself blighted or located in a blighted area (finding that at least five factors of blight are present);
  • Issue a public request for proposals for rehabilitation or redevelopment from all property owners, residents and owners of businesses located on the property, as well as other interested parties; and
  • Determine that the redevelopment of the remaining property within the urban renewal area is not viable without the parcel to be condemned.

State statute also requires urban renewal authorities like DURA to follow the federal Uniform Relocation Act by providing relocation assistance to residents or businesses who are displaced by redevelopment activities.