Short History of the Last Urban Renewal Project in Littleton-Riverfront

If you would rather read a few pages than read the lengthy Summary of the Littleton Riverfront Authority’s Meeting Minutes, then this is for you.  Doug Clark has written a short history of the LRA – take a look.  Thank you Doug!

The History of Littleton Riverfront Redevelopment


The Littleton Riverfront Redevelopment started out with lofty urban renewal goals:

  • Transform a marginal and under-utilized area into an environment with 24 hour vitality and use which integrates residential, office and limited retail uses in a three dimensional mixture.1
  • Which will remedy the conditions of blight that impairs and arrests the sound economic growth of the City.
  • Funded by a financially attractive method utilizing tax increment or other financing.
  • Which has been validated by an independent financial analysis by a reputable firm showing adequate tax increment to cover debt service needs.
  • And will provide substantial monetary benefit to all taxing entities.
  • All without subsidization by the City.2Littleton City Council blighted the Riverfront Area and formed an urban renewal authority in 1980, delegating to that authority the task of redeveloping the Area. The authority was originally named the Littleton Riverfront Authority (LRA), but the name was later changed to Littleton Invests for Tomorrow (LIFT). We will use LIFT hereafter to avoid confusion.What actually happened in the redevelopment was very different than what was envisioned by the City Council and LIFT.
  • The “three dimensional mixture” of land uses never happened because the residential and office buildings were never built.
  • The “limited retail” was built but failed after only four years, leaving the shopping center vacant for nine years before it was converted into office uses.
  • The public costs of condemning the properties and relocating the tenants were originally estimated to be a maximum of $2 million,3 and to be “roll-over costs refunded at the resale of the property.” Instead those costs ballooned to more than $13 million, less than half of which was covered by the resale of property.4
  • The incremental tax revenue was never enough to fully service the scheduled payments for any of the three tax increment bond issues used to finance the costs, leaving multiple investors holding the bag on millions of dollars of Riverfront debt.
  • Contrary to idea of “no subsidies required by the City” the City provided multiple subsidies to LIFT, as well as loaning LIFT substantial amounts of money that were not repaid. LIFT currently owes the City of Littleton approximately $12 million.
  • The blight in the area, which was the whole reason for undertaking the redevelopment, was not remedied. LIFT’s consultant has recently concluded that blight currently exists in the Riverfront Area.5
  • The redevelopment did not provide substantial benefit to any taxing entity in the area. None of the taxing entities realized any increase in tax revenue for the first 25 years after the start of the redevelopment, and only minimal revenue increases in the last six years.The Riverfront Redevelopment project managed by LIFT turned out to be a complete failure.The Riverfront Redevelopment urban renewal project did not remedy blight and it did not provide any additional revenue for the city. It did however cost the City of Littleton $12 million, cost the investors who bought Riverfront bonds millions, and siphoned off tax dollars from Littleton Public Schools, South Suburban Parks and Recreation, and Arapahoe County.The Littleton City Council wants to repeat the same process, on the same property, with the same LIFT board.__________________________1. Presentation by Gale Christy to LIFT, January 1981.
    2. City Council Resolution # 64, September 15, 1981.
    3. LIFT minutes, May 11, 1981.
    4. $5M + $1M land sales to Writer Corp., $1.43M loans from City, $5.385M 1988 bonds, + various gifts of cash from the city. 5. Littleton Invests for Tomorrow, Draft Conditions Survey Findings, dated 22 May 2014, pages 48 – 62.

9/26/14                                                                                                                                                                                                        1

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What Does Urban Renewal Look Like in Littleton?

Why You Need the Right to Vote on Urban Renewal Plans

Urban Renewal is where the City Council declares an area as slum and blighted.

Once the Council “finds” the area to be slum and blight, the City’s urban renewal authority (LIFT) can condemn property and collect taxes belonging to other taxing entities in the urban renewal area. The collecting of taxes which belong to other taxing entities is called Tax Increment Financing, or TIF for short. The other taxing entities include Littleton Public Schools, Arapahoe County, South Suburban Parks and Recreation District, and Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

Please open link below to read more.


Columbine Square Urban Renewal Area Impact Report to Arapahoe County

2014 Columbine Sq Impact Rpt

Santa Fe Urban Renewal Area Impact Report to Arapahoe County

2014 Santa Fe Impact Rpt

What is Urban Renewal and Where Do They Get Their Money?

What is Urban Renewal v3

Same Story – Different Location – Urban Renewal and the Redirection of Your Tax Dollars

This link will take you to a site with more information than you really want but it does illustrate that what is happening in Littleton with urban renewal and tax increment financing is happening elsewhere in the state.

If you have not signed the petition being circulated by citizens to stop the redirection of your tax dollars from the schools, parks, city, county and urban drainage to the urban renewal authority in Littleton please consider doing so.  Over 3,200 signatures are required and each and every signature is one more closer to our goal.  Please email if you would like to sign the petition and one will be at your door!

Urban Renewal and TIF at Issue – It’s Not Just Littleton!

Read about what is happening in Colorado Springs – it will sound very familiar only this effort is actually being led by a sitting councilman.   If you haven’t signed the petition being circulated by citizens to stop the theft of tax dollars intended for the schools, park district, city, county and urban drainage and want to – please email