What is a Downtown Development Authority?
Downtown Development Authorities (DDAs) are quasi-governmental entities that provide organizational focus and financing to support downtown economic development and improvements. DDAs help facilitate partnerships between businesses, property owners, and local governments to champion the beautification, development, and improvements of a city’s central business area for the benefit of the city. DDAs have been successfully established and used in many Colorado cities, including Englewood, Castle Rock, Longmont and Golden.
The City of Littleton, along with a steering committee made up of downtown stakeholders, kicked off a downtown district feasibility study and planning initiative in January 2022. The process involved property owners, business owners, and community members, and resulted in the identification of priority projects for downtown as well as the recommendation to create a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to implement them.
How is a DDA funded?
Large projects and public improvements (such as streetscaping and shared parking facilities) are funded through Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIF funding is a mechanism for the DDA to utilize growth in property and sales tax revenue generated within the DDA. Those funds can then be used to support beautification, development, and redevelopment projects within the DDA. TIF funding is not a new tax; it merely allocates a portion of future property and sales tax revenue generated within the DDA for use by the DDA. The DDA can also be funded by a small property tax to support DDA operations and services, including project planning, safety and maintenance services, and public projects. The Littleton DDA is seeking approval for up to 3 mills in property tax, which is less than the statutorily allowed maximum and paid only by those property owners within the DDA boundary.
Which properties would be within the DDA boundary?
Proposed DDA Boundary Map(PDF, 1MB)
How are DDAs formed?
DDAs are formed by city council adopting an ordinance seeking the organization of the DDA via an election of the qualified electors within the boundaries of the proposed DDA.
As part of the decision to seek organization of the Littleton DDA, the City, along with the steering committee, have developed a plan to provide a road map for potential future improvements and investment in Downtown Littleton. The plan sets goals and strategies in five main areas:
- Improved Parking Experience;
- Well-connected Amenities;
- Beautiful and Welcoming Environment;
- Clean and Safe Spaces; and
- Business-friendly and Vibrant Experiences.
The plan will be further refined and adopted if of the DDA is approved. The TIF funds would be collected for the DDA for up to 30 years, and no more than 50 years. Click here to see a draft of priority projects for downtown [PDF].
How is a DDA governed?
Once a DDA is formed, it is governed by a 5 to 11-member board of directors appointed by city council. A majority of the directors must reside in or own property in the DDA and at least one member of city council would be on the DDA board of directors.
Who can vote in the DDA election?
The organization of a DDA involves a group of electors different than most other elections. The electors qualified to vote in a DDA election are the residents, landowners, and lessees within the boundaries of the proposed DDA. Residents are persons who are United States citizens and residents of the State of Colorado who reside within the boundaries of the proposed DDA. Landowners and lessees who are persons can also vote, and entities (for example, a LLC or corporation) that are landowners or lessees may vote by designating a person to vote on their behalf. The DDA election follows the “one person/one vote” rule, where even though a person or entity may be qualified to vote in more than one way, a person may only vote once. For example, if an entity owns multiple properties within the DDA, that entity may only cast one vote through a designated person, and any person designated to vote on behalf of an entity may not cast an additional ballot.
How will the DDA election work?
Arapahoe County, on behalf of the City of Littleton, will run the DDA election as a mail-ballot election. Residents who are active registered electors and persons who are landowners within the boundaries of the DDA will receive a ballot in the mail. Other qualified electors will need to request a ballot and, for entities that are qualified electors, prepare a form designating the person to vote on its behalf. All ballots will need to be returned no later than 7:00 p.m. on November 8, 2022 to be counted. A majority vote of the ballots cast in the election is needed to pass any individual question.
Does a DDA have eminent domain powers?
DDA’s are different from urban renewal authorities, especially in that they do not have ability of eminent domain and cannot condemn properties within its boundary.