FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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.
Which properties would be within the DDA boundary?
The map below shows the proposed boundaries of the Littleton DDA (click to enlarge).
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. City Council will consider final approval of the ordinance seeking the organization of the Littleton DDA during its meeting and public hearing on August 16, 2022. If the ordinance is passed, the question on the organization of the Littleton DDA and its financial powers will be presented to the qualified electors within the proposed Littleton DDA at the November 8, 2022 election.
As part of the decision to seek organization of the Littleton DDA, the City, along with the steering committee, have been working on a plan to provide a road map for potential future improvements and investment in downtown Littleton. Littleton’s forthcoming plan will set goals and strategies in five main areas:
1) Improved Parking Experience;
2) Well-connected Amenities;
3) Beautiful and Welcoming Environment;
4) Clean and Safe Spaces; and
5) Business-friendly and Vibrant Experiences.
The plan will be further refined and adopted after the formation of the DDA. As part of the approval of the plan, City Council would start the “TIF Clock,” allowing the TIF funds to be collected for the benefit of the DDA for up to 30 years, and no more than 50 years. Click here to see an Executive Summary of the proposed plan and priority projects for Downtown.
How is a DDA governed?
A DDA can be governed by a Board of Directors of 5 to 11 members. The Board is appointed to terms of up to four years by City Council. A majority of the Board members must reside or own property within the boundary of the DDA, and includes at least one seat for a member of City Council. The Board’s primary purpose is to implement the DDA’s Plan of Development within Downtown.
For the Littleton DDA, a Board of seven to nine members is recommended, composed as follows:
At least one member from the North Gateway, South Gateway and Riverside subareas, and two members from the Downtown Core subarea;
One member of the Littleton City Council; and
Other members representing DDA stakeholders.
To fill board vacancies, a process will be established by which the DDA Board will manage an open nominating process, proposed as follows:
The DDA board seeks nominations for the board from property owners, businesses and residents located within the DDA boundary;
The DDA board develops a slate of three nominations for each vacant board seat;
The slate is submitted to City Council for consideration;
The City Council selects a board member from the slate, or seeks additional nominations from the DDA Board.
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.
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 a 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 – postmarks do not count! A majority vote of the ballots cast in the election is needed to pass any individual question.
Click here for full details on who can vote and example DDA Qualified Elector Scenarios.