ULI Colorado - Metropolitan Districts: Wild West or Promised Land?


Wednesday, March 4th, 2020
7:30am - 10:00am MST


Sharp Auditorium, Denver Art Museum, 1400 Will open in a new window 100 W 14th Avenue Pkwy Denver, CO 80204-2713 UNITED STATES


Standard Pricing Until March 2 Members Non-Members
Private $60.00 $80.00
Public/Academic/Nonprofit $50.00 $70.00
Retired $20.00 N/A
Student $20.00 $35.00
Under Age 35 $40.00 $55.00

Colorado’s 1,800 Metro Districts have come under attack for being shadow governments that result in high property taxes and sprawl. (See the recent Denver Post series, “Debt and Democracy.”)

Yet in the post-TABOR era, Colorado has few choices to fund essential public improvements such as sidewalks, parks, roads, and services like water and sewer. Projects like the Central Platte Valley, Highlands Ranch, and Stapleton might not exist without the Metro District finance structure.

Developers say that since TABOR they are simply using the tools available to fund housing, commercial areas, amenities, and infrastructure that serves hundreds of thousands of Coloradans. If these public infrastructure costs were included in the price of each home, many residents would be priced out of the market. Instead, metro districts spread these costs out over time.

This program will unearth fact and fiction related to Colorado’s Metro Districts, discuss challenges and successes of these special districts, and explore policies that support our state’s sustainable growth.



Moderator: Bruce O’Donnell, President, Starboard Realt

(30 min) PART 1 -
Metro Districts 101
Their history, how they work, and Colorado case studies good and bad.
Speakers:                            Sam Sharp, Managing Director, Public Finance, DA Davidson
                                                Jason B. Carroll, Managing Principal, CliftonLarsonAllen
 (15 min) PART 2-
Market Study: building the case for metro districts 
What happens when you don’t have the ability to create special districts?
Speaker:                              Andrew Knudtsen, Managing Principal, Economic & Planning Systems

(1 hr 15 min) PART 3-

The role of good policy in creating local government.  
Why do counties rely on this as a tool for growth and revenue? What can we do  to make current policy better?
Panelists Include:             Thomas George, Partner, Spencer Fane LLC
                                                Andrew P. Rubin, Associate, Greenberg Traurig
                                Stay tuned for more Panelists to be announced soon!

The panel will address…

·         What we can do to make current policy around metro districts and other special districts better.
·         How we introduce green principles and green infrastructure into these districts, which are often considered suburban        sprawl. Are metro districts an incentive for sprawl and single-family
·         Bringing more transparency to home sales and the overall process; addressing the issue of “fairness” in the governance structure.
·         Low home price vs. high property tax… is it sustainable?·         Bringing equality to the risk distribution among developer, bond holder, and homeowner.
·         Making additional policy recommendations.
·         What are most recent court rulings

 This program seeks to:

1)                  Provide a broader understanding for anyone taking up legislation on metro districts in 2020 and provide a prepared and thoughtful ULI response.
2)                  Result in 3-5 policy recommendations as a product of the panel discussion- best practices for local governments approving service plans
3)                  Provide a balanced and critical analysis of metro districts
4)                  Create a resource that can continue to be shared with municipalities and public and private sectors in future decisions and discussions around metro districts, and to provide ongoing education on this topic.

Registration includes a light complimentary breakfast, networking, and thorough conversation. 2 continuing education credits are offered through AIA, AICP, and the Colorado Real Estate Commission.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for this program. Please contact sarah.franklin@uli.org to learn more and support ULI!


Sharp Auditorium, Denver Art Museum, 1400 100 W 14th Avenue Pkwy Denver, CO 80204-2713 UNITED STATES

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