The federal Opportunity Zone Program offers certain tax incentives for private investment in low-income communities.
Boulder's Opportunity Zone
In 2018, a census tract in Boulder (122.03) was designated as an Opportunity Zone by the U.S. Department of the Treasury through a federal initiative designed to attract private investment in residential and commercial properties, businesses and infrastructure. City staff submitted the census tract for consideration based on a number of factors including community goals and potential redevelopment opportunities the designation might support.
Federal Opportunity Zone designation does not affect the applicability of local tax code, zoning or city regulatory authority. Opportunity Zone federal tax benefits may be used with other incentive programs.
Boulder's Opportunity Zone (Census Tract 122.03) includes:
- 2.5-square-mile area located between 28th Street (west), Diagonal Highway and Independence Road (north), Airport Road and 55th Street (east) and Arapahoe Avenue (south)
- Approx. 7,500 residents with a median household income of $62,334 (compared to the city median of $69,520)
- Approx. 4,000 housing units with a median value of $263,200 (compared to the city median of $700,000)
- Approx. 1,500 businesses
- Diagonal Plaza area, Boulder Junction, UCAR, two mobile home communities (Orchard Grove and Vista Village) and Boulder Community Hospital, several industrial and commercial areas
Opportunity Zone Investments
Opportunity Zone-related funding may, in certain circumstances, fund public infrastructure or investments providing community benefit (for example, affordable housing, public infrastructure and start-up business investments). Specific business types, as specified by the IRS, are excluded from the program, including golf courses, country clubs, gaming institutions and liquor stores.
Qualified investors making eligible investments may receive federal tax incentives in the form of deferrals, reductions and possible elimination of certain federal capital gains taxes. Recent IRS guidance provides more detail on the establishment, qualification and uses of Opportunity Funds. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) Colorado Opportunity Zone Program website provides information on how opportunity zones work, business eligibility and potential investment opportunities.
Boulder Opportunity Zone Overlay District
In 2019, City Council adopted an ordinance to create an overlay zone for the city's opportunity zone to prevent potential accelerated demolition of existing multifamily housing stock to protect neighborhood character and preserve affordability, and an ordinance to update the land use code to ensure development in the Opportunity Zone would be consistent with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan.
- On Oct. 29, 2019 City Council adopted Ordinance 8358 to create an Opportunity Zone (O.Z.) overlay district that would prohibit demolition of attached dwelling units in federal Census Tract 122.03 for the period the tract is a qualified O.Z. Ordinance 8358 also repeals the development moratorium ordinance that was adopted in late 2018 by council. The city will continue to explore potential new requirements that could apply to any project benefitting from federal O.Z. funding and may be a prioritized work program item from the next City Council. The Oct. 29 memo and ordinances can be found online here. Video of the council meeting is available to view online here.
- Relatedly, City Council also adopted Ordinance 8337 to update the Use Tables to be more consistent with the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan (BVCP) for zoning districts within the federally designated O.Z. (Census Tract 122.03). The focus of these changes has been to follow BVCP goals of reducing non-residential capacity through restricting office, incentivizing residential in appropriate locations (preferably permanently affordable housing) and protecting and creating more opportunities for retail. While the changes reference the O.Z., the changes would apply to the respective zones city wide. Please visit the Use Table and Standards project webpage for additional information.
City Priorities and Plans
Resources providing information about community priorities and applicable zoning in Boulder's Opportunity Zone are listed below.