- Study commissioned in 2021 by Denver Parks & Recreation identifies neighborhoods around the Park Hill Golf Course (PHGC) land (Northeast Park Hill, Elyria Swansea, and Clayton) as needing an increase of 183.5 acres of park land in order to meet the national average of 13 acres per 1,000 people. This information is ignored in CPD’s “visioning” and “small area plan process”.
- Denver needs high-quality, affordable housing! The area around the PHGC land has a high number of sites currently available for all kinds of development including affordable housing- let’s see what happens there before even considering turning green to concrete!
- ALL conservation easements are on private land. This private land owner took a gamble that the PHGC land Conservation Easement could be removed.
What’s REALLY going on here?
- In 1997, Denver purchased the PHGC land’s Conservation Easement for $2 million, explicitly intending to keep the property undeveloped and to have the land used for open space and recreational purposes.
- In 2018, Denver voters approved the 0.25% Parks and Open Space sales tax which is dedicated for improvement and expansion of Denver’s parks and recreation system.
- In 2019, Denver paid $5.1 million for 1.9 acres of land in SE Denver to be used for park land. The PHGC land with the Conservation Easement intact has an estimated fair market value of $5-6 million. So, for a comparable price, Denver could get a 155 acre park in NE Denver!
- In July 2019, Westside (Developer) purchased this PHGC land subject to the Conservation Easement but with plans to break the Conservation Easement and develop the land.
- Voters gave a decisive “NO” to the Developer in November 2021 (Ballot Initiatives 301 & 302). The Developer and the City of Denver have moved forward to develop the PHGC land despite this powerful election message.
For more information:
- 1997 – The City (under Mayor Wellington Webb) purchases the Conservation Easement for Park Hill Golf Course (PHGC) land for $2 million. The Conservation Easement prohibits development by preserving the land for open space and recreational purposes.
- 1997-2018 – The PHGC land is owned by Clayton Trust subject to the Conservation Easement. Clayton Trust operates the land as a golf course.
- November 2018 – Denver voters approve the 0.25% Parks and Open Space sales tax which is dedicated for improvement and expansion of Denver’s parks and recreation system
- July 2019 – Westside purchases the PHGC land subject to the Conservation Easement.
- 2019 – The City pays $5.1 million for ONLY 1.9 acres in SE Denver to create a new park. The 155-acres PHGC land with the intact Conservation Easement is now estimated to have a fair market value of $5-6 million.
- November 2019 – A Greater Park Hill Community, Inc.-commissioned survey finds 77% of neighbors prefer the property to “remain entirely some kind of green space/park or golf course”.
- January 2021-July 2022: The City’s Community Planning and Development Department (CPD) uses a hand-picked, pro-development “Steering Committee” to perform a “visioning” and “small area plan” process for the 155-acre PHGC land. Unfortunately, the process has a predetermined outcome of breaking the Conservation Easement and supporting mixed commercial and residential development on a significant portion of the land. CPD considers Westside to be its “client” in this process.
- April 2021 – A study commissioned by Denver Parks & Recreation identifies the neighborhoods around the PHGC land (Northeast Park Hill, Elyria Swansea, and Clayton) as needing an increase of 183.5 acres of park land in order to meet the national average of 13 acres per 1,000 people. Note: This information is ignored in CPD’s “visioning” and “small area plan” process.
- November 2021 – Denver voters approve Ballot Measure 301 requiring that development of any property protected by a City-owned conservation easement must be approved by a city-wide vote. Denver voters also defeat Ballot Measure 302 that proposes excluding the PHGC land from this city-wide vote requirement.
- July 2022 – CPD finalizes its Small Area Plan for the PHGC land calling for at least 55 acres of dense mixed residential and commercial development along Colorado Boulevard with buildings from 4 to 12 stories high.
- August 2022 – Westside submits its Rezoning Application to change the zoning from Open Space Recreation (OS-B) to multiple zoning classifications including dense mixed-use development consistent with CPD’s Small Area Plan.
- October 19-December 5, 2022- The Planning Board, the City Council Land Use and Transportation (LUTI) Committee, and the City Council gives rubber stamp approval to CPD’s Small Area Plan.
- December 13, 2022 – The City Council LUTI Committee approves Westside’s Rezoning Application, the Development Agreement and Land Exchange Agreement (Development-Land Exchange Agreement) between the City and Westside, & Westside’s Metropolitan District Consolidated Service Plan (Metro District Plan) for the PHGC land. The Development-Land Exchange Agreement includes convoluted provisions designed to attempt to break the Conservation Easement. The Metro District Plan authorizes additional real estate taxes to fund infrastructure development on the PHGC land that will result in doubling real estate taxes for market-rate property owners (and indirectly their possible tenants) who will occupy at least 75% of the developed property and, therefore, contributing to neighborhood gentrification.
- December 20, 2022- City Council’s LUTI Committee approves ballot language for the April 4, 2023 election asking voters to approve breaking the Conservation Easement in order to open the PHGC land to development. (Ballot language approval is on the January 23, 2023 City Council agenda.)
 Small Area Plans are created by the Community Planning and Development Department (CPD) for the purposes of outlining proposed development for specific geography in advance of and in preparation for community input. See City of Denver definition here (scroll down to find Small Area Planning).