About the Downtown Development Authority

View down a Denver street with brick buildings and cars parked along the sides

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) is a tool enabled by a state statute that allows municipalities to collect a portion of the incremental taxes generated within the central business district and reinvest those funds into economic development activities within that same area. There are more than 20 DDAs currently in place in downtowns across Colorado. DDAs are required to be located in a municipality’s central business district, and each municipality can only have one DDA in place at a time. The use of DDA funds is guided by a Plan of Development, which in Denver will need to be approved by Denver City Council, anticipated in fall 2024.

Functions of the DDA include:

  • Implementing a Plan of Development
  • Making dedicated funding available for investing in strategic capital projects within the city's downtown
  • Supporting catalytic investments that spur economic growth and revitalization downtown

History

In 2008, the city used the DDA to help deliver over $400 million in public transportation projects at Union Station. This strategic public investment complemented and strengthened private investment at Union Station to better serve local and regional residents as well as attract new visitors and businesses.

Public assets funded through the DDA include:

  • Historic station preservation
  • Rail tracks, platforms, and canopies
  • Regional bus facility
  • Public gathering spaces
  • Public street, utilities, and parking 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the DDA increase my taxes?

No, the DDA is an existing funding tool and does not raise taxes (nor will taxes decrease if it goes away).  

Property and sales tax rates would remain the same (per Denver Revised Municipal Code and Colorado Revised Statutes) regardless of whether the DDA is expanded or not. The DDA does not determine tax rates. 

Can the DDA condemn my property or have other regulatory controls?

No – Unlike urban renewal authorities, a DDA cannot condemn property. In addition, it has no additional regulatory authority over property.

Who is eligible to vote in the special election?

Per the Colorado Revised Statute (CRS 31-25-802(9)), qualified electors of Denver’s DDA include: 

  1. DDA Residents (someone who is a citizen of the USA and a resident of Colorado, at least 18 years old, and makes his/her primary dwelling within the DDA); or 
  2. DDA Landowners (the owner in fee of any undivided interest in real property or any improvement permanently affixed to real property within the DDA – this includes a contract purchaser obligated to pay general taxes, an heir, and a devisee under a will admitted to probate); or 
  3. DDA Lessees (the holder of a leasehold interest in real property within the DDA – a “leasehold interest” does NOT include a license or a mere contract right to use real property within the DDA) 

Please note: Any “landowner” or “lessee” that is not a natural person may vote ONLY if it designates by some official action a representative to cast a ballot on its behalf. A “qualified elector” may only cast one vote, but any person qualified or lawfully designated as acting as a representative may be entitled to cast the vote of more than one qualified elector (in other words, an individual may be a qualified elector in their own right (by being a resident or a tenant within the DDA, for example) and may also separately act as a designated representative of a landowner or lessee). 

Plan of Development

The Plan of Development provides guidelines for projects and improvements that can be funded by a DDA. It may not necessarily identify specific projects or investments, but rather instead identify categories and criteria to guide public capital investment.

Denver's existing DDA and its associated Plan of Development from 2008 have specifically targeted the redevelopment of Denver Union Station, which has been completed. With unforeseen economic challenges having emerged following the pandemic, Denver can now benefit from a more conventional DDA that serves a larger part of the downtown corridor.

In 2024, the city will work with communities to craft a shared vision of a vibrant downtown and establish guidelines and criteria for the use of public DDA funds in a manner that will promote economic growth and encourage increased investment. It is anticipated that an update to the DDA’s Plan of Development will be presented to the DDA board, Denver Planning Board, and City Council in late 2024 for their consideration.