What is Urban Renewal?
Urban renewal is where the city declares an area as slum and blighted. This allows the city to condemn property in the area and transfer that property to a developer to build something the city finds more desirable1. It also allows the city to take taxes collected by other taxing entities in the area and use it for urban renewal projects; this is called tax increment financing. The major source of tax increment revenue comes from Littleton Public Schools, but tax increment financing also takes taxes from South Suburban Parks and Recreation, Arapahoe County, and Urban Drainage and Flood Control.
In other words, urban renewal is a process where the City takes tax dollars away from the schools to build failing shopping centers, such as the Riverfront Festival Center.
- Littleton used urban renewal to build a shopping center at the corner of Santa Fe and Bowles. The Riverfront Festival Center shopping center closed after 4 years and was purchased nine years later by EchoStar.
- That project cost the citizens of Littleton $9 million2, the bond holders $17 million, and Writer Corp. $22 million.
- City Council is planning on using urban renewal again to transform the EchoStar call center into a shopping center, even though the City already lost millions trying that idea before3.
- EchoStar is owned by billionaire Charlie Ergen, Colorado’s richest man.
- The urban renewal of EchoStar will be financed, in part, by tax dollars from Littleton Public Schools.
1 City Council passed a resolution saying it won’t use comdemnation, while directing its staff to include properties in urban renewal areas whose only purpose being in the plan is for condemnation.
2 City of Littleton 2008 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.
3 Santa Fe Urban Renewal Area, approved by LIFT 8/18/2014; Penny for Your Thoughts, August 2014 – Youtube
What is Slum and Blight?
In order to use urban renewal in an area of the city the City Council must declare an area as slum and blighted. Slum and blight is defined by state law as conditions that are a “menace to health, safety, morals, or welfare”.
The following businesses and locations have been found by the City’s urban renewal consultant to be blighted, which will allow the city to take tax dollars from other taxing entities for urban renewal; other taxing entities include Littleton Public Schools and South Suburban Parks and Recreation. You decide if these areas are really slum and blight:
• The King Soopers currently being rebuilt at Littleton Blvd. and Broadway.
• The McDonalds at the corner of Church and Santa Fe, which was completely rebuilt in 2011.
• The new Breckenridge Brewery, which is currently under construction.
• The RTD Light Rail Station at Mineral and Santa Fe.
• Part of Arapahoe Community College.
• The vacant Ensor property between Santa Fe and the South Platte River from Mineral to County Line. • The vacant property on the north west corner of Santa Fe and Bowles.
• Various private single family houses along Santa Fe and north of Littleton Blvd.
For more information.