Urban Renewal Discussions Held in Montrose

10/03/2019 10:14 AM | Morgan Pierce (Administrator)


September 16 , 2019

On September 16th-17th, Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) worked with the City of Montrose to develop a Western Slope Reinvestment and Redevelopment Symposium on urban renewal tools and practices for the Montrose Urban Renewal Board and partners. The event was supported by City of Montrose, City of Durango, City of Grand Junction, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, and Dean Brookie Architecture.

The first evening included a private workshop for attendees including Montrose City Council, Montrose Urban Renewal Authority, and the Montrose Development and Revitalization Team (DART). Presentations by DCI’s Katherine Correll and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck discussed how the city vision shapes the projects, the toolbox of funding options, how to right size tax increment financing areas, and how to encourage the types of development and redevelopment that communities are looking for.

Symposium attendees were invited to come early and conduct a project area tour of the recently developed Mayfly Outdoors. This project combined private investment, tax increment, and Great Outdoors Colorado (GoCo) funds to develop a top notch manufacturing facility and a trail that connects the development to downtown while enhancing river access to neighboring communities. We also enjoyed a fabulous reception at Horsefly Brewing. Reception sponsored by Dean Brookie Architects.

On day two, the Western Slope Reinvestment & Redevelopment Workshop in considered how to maximize impacts using Urban Renewal and the benefits of downtown management programs. Speakers included Bill Bell, City of Montrose; Katherine Correll, Downtown Colorado, Inc.; Kim Grant, Colorado Preservation, Inc.; Karen Harkin, CHFA; Alex Rugoff, City of Durango; Mike Scholl, City of Loveland; and Carolynne White, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.

Attendees included representatives from Montrose DART, Colorado Workforce Development Council, La Plata County, City of Montrose, Town of Collbran, City of Grand Junction, Town of Pagosa Springs, Grand Junction Downtown Partnership, City of Durango, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, Development Research Partners, Colorado Housing & Finance Authority, Colorado Preservation, Inc, City of Loveland, Town of Walsenburg, Community Builders, Art District on Santa Fe, Colorado Main Street, City of Monte Vista, and the Department of Local Affairs.

The dialogue included an introduction to urban renewal and how it can support catalyst projects and community priorities. Speakers shared some background on important factors for a successful downtown, including historic preservation, housing, and brownfield sites. The conversation explored each area and why projects cost more as well as the resources that help to level the playing field to make these projects feasible for the private sector to address. Participants were then walked through a project pro forma, the financial road map to financing a development project, and were able to discuss in small groups the details of the pro forma, the private sector gap, and the purpose and process for the Third Party Review.

Ideas Shared

  • As the City moves forward with the Comprehensive Plan, consider how to build plan goals into the work of the URA will help to provide a means of encouraging private sector development. It is important to recognize that goals for one part of the community may not be applicable in all sections of the city so not all projects may not achieve all goals.
  • The goals of the public sector may differ significantly from the goals of the private sector.
  • Historic tax credits may need be isolated from TIF projects, so to maximize access to the tax credits, the developer can carve off the affordable housing piece as a separate project.
  • Opportunity Zones timing from project identification to breaking ground is very fast so communities who can expedite planning and zoning efforts to make those happen.
  • Raising capital with historic preservation projects is only half the challenge, but developing the plan for future use is often a significant challenge as well.
  • Housing and utilities should not require more than 30% of income or people are financially burdened and qualify for affordable housing.

Questions and Answers

  • When you write the URA Plan, focus on the blight conditions that link the area to other areas of focus where you may want investment later. TIF can be used for anything that remedies the blight identified in the URA Plan.
  • What is 1348? 1348 means both Governance and Negotiation. Governance is included entities on your board. Negotiation is looking each plan area and the use of increment in the area. Adding a URA plan area would require negotiation if it was going to use property tax TIF from any entity.
  • What are the pros and cons of a larger TIF area versus a smaller TIF area?
  • Developing very specific and narrow boundaries for a TIF area makes tracking of impacts easier and reduces the risk of one or more project failure taking away from the increment for all. It can be one large urban renewal area, with small individual TIF areas focused on only the narrow project.
  • Timing of TIF is important and it is impacted by the assessor’s office, whether it is an assessment year, etc. Adopt the plan when the value is a low as possible but at a time where investment will happen in the near future. Turning on TIF Clock  in area 1, and wait on area 2?
  • How do you deal with Naysayers who think URA is public welfare?Invite them into the process. Go to the people rather than making them come to City Hall.
  • How did you implement the TIF – from the County Treasurer – Montrose invited the County Assessor to be the County representative on the board. The State Assessors Office also does an annual technical training.
  • What kinds of comments are coming as the URA formation is evolving?Very positive response for the most part, businesses and government are focused on housing for employees, banks are also interested in how it can work with a line of credit, private sector is seeing that Durango is serious about redeveloping. There is a lot of overlap with Opportunity Zones and they are building prospectuses around that effort.
  • Assessors’ Reference Library says that infrastructure is an increase in value that qualifies, but they don’t always record the value and attribute to increment to the base until the permits to go vertical are issued.

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