How Urban Renewal Works

Urban Renewal or Tax Increment Financing is a tool used by municipalities to finance improvements and redevelop in specific areas of a city by reinvesting the increase in the area's property taxes.

How Does It Work?

Point on a map

Step 1 - The District is created


The value of ALL the properties inside the district is calculated. This becomes the frozen base amount of property tax for the area.

Step 2 - Redevelopment and Improvements.

Public and private investments generate improvements. As property values increase, all new tax revenue above the frozen base amount go to the urban renewal fund to reinvest in the area.
Dollar sign

Step 3 - District is retired.

Once the City Council is finished investing in the area and the debt of the district has been repaid, the district is retired. Property taxes are distributed among the taxing districts.

Where does the money come from?

When the district is created, the assessed value of property within the district is set (or “frozen”) and those taxes continue to go to the government (city, county, and school districts through the State). Any property value increase above that frozen amount is called the “increment.” The amount of taxes on the increased value (or “increment”) is what is collected across the city for the urban renewal district to use for redevelopment projects.

Graph showing the "frozen base" and increment funding of urban renewal

Who decides how Urban Renewal funds can be used?

The State of Oregon created the legislation that allows for urban renewal; districts are created by local municipalities. In Eugene, the City Council decides what areas should be included in urban renewal districts. The council also creates a plan for improving the area.

Following public notice and hearing, and after considering public testimony and planning commission recommendations, the city council may approve the urban renewal plan or amendments to the plan by ordinance.

The Downtown Urban Renewal District Plan includes a list of specific projects that were approved by the City Council in 2010. In addition, the Agency Board (City Council) must approve any project, other than loans, from Riverfront District funds over $250,000.

The City of Eugene’s Budget Committee reviews the Urban Renewal Agency’s proposed budget and provides recommendations to the City Council. The City Council adopts the Urban Renewal Agency budget and reviews and approves any supplemental budgets during the year.

Where is Urban Renewal used in Eugene?

Eugene has two urban renewal districts: the Downtown Urban Renewal District and the Riverfront Urban Renewal District.
  Map of Urban Renewal Districts 2016

How has Urban Renewal been used?

Council has used Downtown Urban Renewal to support significant downtown improvements, primarily public projects including the Hult Center, Eugene Public Library, Lane Community College Downtown Campus, and the LTD downtown station. Since 1998, City Council has focused the use of the Downtown Urban Renewal District almost exclusively on public improvements in downtown – helping fulfill the public’s vision for downtown.

The Downtown Revitalization Loan Program has provided almost $6 million in loans to support downtown redevelopment and leveraged over $26 million in private funds. The revolving loan program provides gap funds that are repaid and then loaned to other projects. The loan program has supported and enhanced our local businesses including places like the McDonald Theatre, the Jazz Station, Oregon Contemporary Theater, Davis Restaurant, Shoe-A-Holic, Harlequin Beads, the Barn Light, Sizzle Pie, First National Tap House, First on Broadway (apartments), Red Wagon Creamery, Party Downtown, Broadway Commerce Center (office building), Off the Waffle, Woolworth Building, Cowfish, and Brenner’s Furniture.

You can view an interactive map of downtown redevelopment projects here. City Council has used urban renewal on a number of these projects.

Has Urban Renewal helped increase the value of downtown?

Since the Downtown Urban Renewal District was created, the value of the area has had an average annual increase of 5% - from $45.8M to $499.2M; and total increase of $453.4M.