Littleton Invests For Tomorrow (LIFT) - as authorized by State law - was created by the City of Littleton to provide the community with a set of tools to foster community development. As directed by its board and overseen by the Littleton City Council, LIFT is helping to enable thoughtful, sound growth and development.
LIFT works closely with property owners, businesses, community leaders, civic organizations, financing institutions and developers to provide the framework with which to work collaboratively to accomplish Council Goals.
The Littleton Riverfront Authority (LRA) was founded in 1980 for the purpose of redevelopment, revitalization, and renewal of productive and attractive land uses along the South Platte River and Little's Creek within Littleton city limits. The original redevelopment area was a 25-acre parcel between the South Platte River and South Santa Fe Drive from Church Street to Crestline Avenue. In 1981, the LRA commissioned studies for this site, which confirmed all existing structures except one business and three residences were non-conforming uses. The LRA hosted more than a dozen public meetings and numerous neighborhood sessions during the planning process. Later that year, an Urban Renewal Plan was adopted and the Authority began soliciting proposals from developers.
The Writer Corporation, a Denver-Based company, was selected in 1983 to develop the site. Between 1983 and 1984 the LRA issued a total of $8.6 million[i] in bonds for the purpose of acquiring land and the relocation of 72 mobile homes and 16 businesses in the area. In 1984, the construction began on Riverfront Festival Center, a $150-million development anchored by an upscale farmer’s market and retail with a proposed hotel, theatre/performance venue and office space. Phase I of the development, a 24,000 square-foot farmer’s market and retail spaces of the Riverfront Festival Center opened in 1985. Later that year, $4,780,000 in tax increment bonds were issued by the LRA for the purpose of repaying the $2.5 million bond issue of 1983 and the $1.1 million bond issue from 1984.
The Riverfront Festival Center never flourished. From the time Writer opened the mall, there was not sufficient tax increment revenues to cover the annual debt service requirements. A sluggish economy, lack of an anchor tenant, and stronger retail markets near Park Meadows and Southwest Plaza led to its failure. In 1988, the LRA issued $5,385,000 in TIF Revenue Bonds for the purpose of redeeming the 1985 TIF Bonds. In 1991, Writer lost the property to the lender banks.Chenco International Investment and Alpine Capital Group purchased the property for $3.3 million in 1993 and briefly considered a proposal to turn the property into an aquarium site. In 1997 Chenco invested funds to convert the building to office space. The Littleton Planning Commission approved a zoning change for office use and EchoStar/DISH Network purchased the Riverfront property for its corporate headquarters for $7.5 million.
The LRA issued another series of bonds[ii] in 1999 for the purpose of repayment of 1988 bondholders and to waive rights of further repayment on these bonds, including any and all obligations to the City of Littleton[iii]. At the end of 2008, the LRA’s authority to receive tax increment expired (limited to 25 years), all bond obligations and debt was repaid or terminated by agreements with bondholders. From 2009-2013, the LRA board would meet once a year to submit an annual budget, until late 2013 when the LRA was re-named Littleton Invests for Tomorrow (LIFT) with a new goal to provide additional investment options for property owners not just along the Riverfront area, but the broader community as well.
###[i]In May of 1983, the LRA issued bonds totaling $7.5 million ($2.5 and $5 million) for the purpose of acquisition of land, clearing property, relocation costs of businesses and residences and project costs. An additional $1.1 million of bond funding was secured in 1984 for purchase of additional property.
[ii]In 1999, LRA issued bonds totaling $4,100,000 ($2,030,000 Series 1999A-1, $170,000 Series 1999A-2, 1,900,000 Series 1999B) for the purpose of repayment of 1988 bondholders and to waive rights of further repayment on these bonds.
[iii] Net financial support from the city to LRA is approximately $962,676.