Center prepares for Urban Renewal Authority

Photo by Patrick Shea Center Town Manager Brian Lujan kicked off presentations and celebrations of development plans at the Center Viking Youth Club on Feb. 21.

CENTER — Dozens of Center business leaders, residents, and elected officials met at the Center Viking Youth Club on Feb. 21 to celebrate achievements over the past five years that put development plans into motion. Establishing Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is the next step.

After sharing tacos, rice, and beans from Azteca De Oro, participants heard reports from Center Town Manager Brian Lujan and representatives from Downtown Colorado Inc. (DCI). Center Consolidated Schools Superintendent Carrie Zimmerman had to leave early to catch the end of the girls high school basketball playoff game. For tax-collection and distribution, special districts like the school infrastructure play a key role in development.

To qualify for the money required to develop the North 90, establishing Urban Renewal Authority is essential. Fortunately, the preliminary work from Lujan, his staff, DCI, and MASS Design helped secure the first $10 million in grant funding and laid the groundwork for meeting URA requirements. The details presented on-screen show even greater potential. Economic development in Center is not limited to the North 90 project.

One map during the presentation showed areas eligible for URA designation in and around Center. In addition to the enormous 90-acre parcel, dozens of potential sites sprinkled across town. Projects in the community park can develop in tandem with North 90 development, for example.

Financially, URA designation allows Center and the special districts to leverage “tax-incremented financing” (TIF) for access to substantial funds. Currently, the assessed value of residential and commercial property in Center is relatively flat year-to-year because the tax base doesn’t change much. But if a major project increases tax collection projections over time, the 25-year forecast shows substantial revenues.

With tax-incremented financing, the future increase can be accessed in advance. For example, one URA in the Denver area used TIF funds to pay off loans and close out the URA 10 years before the customary 25-year time frame. Slicing this pie further, the special districts within the Center community can budget concurrently with the North 90 development project.