Urban renewal is an important financing tool for revitalizing Colorado’s communities, particularly those plagued by blight, yet misperception about urban renewal is common. In recognition of the essential and positive influence urban renewal has had in large and small downtowns across our state, Downtown Colorado, Inc., has added a focus on saving urban renewal to our bank of community support services through our Development & Improvement Districts (DIDs) Forum program.
On August 8, DCI hosted its DIDs Forum “Developer’s Bottom Line: Urban Renewal Authorities (URA) using Community Vision to Shape Development.” This session included a review of Westminster and Arvada’s plans for development with the transit-oriented development (TOD) coming out west. Each community has a need for private sector investment to address a public need for parking, housing, and/or community gathering and green space.
The City of Westminster is due to have a commuter rail station constructed in a blighted section of the city that is prime for redevelopment. In response to an initial plan from RTD to construct a large surface parking lot, the city is in the process of planning for the construction of a parking structure that will leave substantial land for new development activity. In addition, the City is planning to construct two public plazas serving the station along with the development of a 35-acre park immediately adjacent to the station and redevelopment area. Combined with the city’s ownership of a strategic parcel of vacant land immediately adjacent to the train station, these improvements are expected to serve as a catalyst to attracting new residential and commercial development in the near future.
The original Arvada Urban Renewal area includes the big box center at Wadsworth just off of I-70, Historic Olde Town Arvada and the Water Tower Village. The story of this development includes the removal of a blighted area, creation of a huge revenue-generating power center, the revitalization of a dilapidated historic district through facade grants, new streetscapes, creation of a town square and the development of four two-story mixed-use buildings. A 26-acre high crime area was recreated into a 600-unit urban styled residential village. The former residents of this blighted area were relocated without use of eminent domain and many of them were able to use the URA support provided to enter a first time homeowner program. When the urban renewal area completed the 25 years of revitalization, the other taxing entities received an increase in tax revenues of over $13 million annually.
The success of Olde Town has now resulted in a parking problem and, as RTD looks at the commuter rail station, there is not only a need for transit parking but also a need to overbuild parking so that the residents and businesses can continue to grow and thrive.
Please visit DCI URA Resource Page to access specific materials referenced at the meeting.