Castle Pines approves formation of urban renewal authority
Castle Pines City Council unanimously approved a plan to form an urban renewal authority that will set aside a portion of future tax revenues for business district improvements.
Council members voted May 9 in favor of a resolution to establish the Castle Pines Urban Renewal District, which will encompass the existing commercial district west of I-25.
“It really is kind of the lifeblood of the community as far as essential services,” said Sam Bishop, Community Development Director for Castle Pines. “We generate sales tax within this area, and it provides employment opportunities, so it’s no surprise that this area has always been a priority of not only City Council but the community as well.”
Urban renewal districts use tax-increment financing to address deterioration and blight by making owner-requested improvements to business facades and infrastructure.
Here is how it works: the assessed value of property within the district is documented when the district is created. That base value is then compared to future property assessments, and the urban renewal district collects a portion of new property tax revenues from the property owner generated by the incremental increases in valuation from the improvements. The funds can be used for projects like parking lot improvements, drainage, landscaping and facade upgrades.
Much of the existing development in the business district west of I-25 was built in the mid- to late-1980s. The district will include the former Safeway, which has been vacant for several years.
During a council study session April 25, the Castle Pines West Commercial District Conditions Survey – conducted by an outside agency – was presented, and Bishop said nine of the 11 conditions necessary to qualify as blight were found to exist. He also said conversations with business and property owners in the district have been overwhelmingly positive.
In 2011, voters in Castle Pines approved by referendum the adoption of an ordinance that abolished the then-newly formed Castle Pines Urban Renewal Authority (URA), which looked at the east side of I-25 and the northwest corner of Castle Pines Parkway and Monarch Boulevard (now home to Legacy Village) to include in the plan.
Backers of the measure objected to what they perceived as a lack of input into the process prior to its approval. A grassroots committee called Blight’s Not Right campaigned in favor of abolishing the URA and said the Castle Pines community is “the antithesis of ‘blight,’ and is in fact one of the most beautiful, most livable, most desirable communities in Colorado.”
According to Bishop, URA laws have subsequently changed since 2011 requiring the URA to negotiate with the special districts impacted.
One of the original business owners to open in Castle Pines in 2005, Dr. John Vickers said, “I think it’s great and I am all for it. He continued, “Castle Pines is a premier neighborhood in the Denver metro area, and its retail district should reflect that.” No members of the public commented on the plan during the May 9 council meeting.
The six members of council and Mayor Tracy Engerman will serve on the URA board as commissioners; the board will also include one representative from the Douglas County School District, one from Douglas County, and one to represent the remaining taxing districts active in the urban renewal district. An eleventh member is required by law, and Engerman has the authority to appoint someone of her choosing.
The URA is anticipated to meet in September to begin work on an urban renewal plan which will also be reviewed by the Castle Pines Planning Commission.
For additional details, visit the City’s website at castlepinesco.gov and view the City Council agenda from the May 9 meeting, item 8c.
By Chris Michlewicz