Denver Development

Litigation Over Park Hill Golf Course Will Be Settled, but What Comes Next Is Unclear

The Park Hill Golf Course remains one of the largest expanses of open space in metro Denver... for now.
The Park Hill Golf Course remains one of the largest expanses of open space in metro Denver... for now. Anthony Camera
Westside Investment Partners, the developer that purchased Park Hill Golf Course in July, has reached a tentative "agreement in principle" with the city that would end a lawsuit regarding Denver's stormwater detention project on the golf course land. Neither party can disclose the full details of the agreement before it becomes official; however, Mayor Michael Hancock's office released a statement today, October 1, emphasizing that it does not change the current land restrictions.

Despite the tentative agreement, Westside must navigate a long road before it can develop Park Hill Golf Course, which it purchased for $24 million. All 155 acres are currently subject to a conservation easement that prohibits any change to the land use. The prospect of development faces serious opposition from local advocates, who have argued that the city should uphold the conservation easement, which can only be torn apart by Denver City Council, as a way of preserving the land as open space. However, the easement, established by Wellington Webb's administration in 1997, requires the land to remain a golf course — a use that, given the flood mitigation work going on now, looks fairly untenable.

That's what Arcis Golf, the company that leased Park Hill Golf Course from Clayton Early Learning, originally argued when it filed the lawsuit in March, after the city seized 35 acres of the land without Arcis’s consent. Four holes were torn up for the sake of the complex and controversial Platte to Park Hill stormwater detention project, thus damaging the irrigation system and “making the operation of a full, 18-hole golf course impossible,” Arcis alleges in the complaint. The Park Hill Golf Course has since been shuttered.

Westside paid Arcis Golf an undisclosed amount to take over both of its lawsuits against the city (Arcis had also sued claiming its own right to buy the property). According to Ryan Luby, a spokesperson for the Denver City Attorney's Office, the pending agreement stipulates that if no other viable alternative use for the land is reached, Westside will be responsible for restoring the property back to a golf course. The agreement could dictate how much Westside will receive for the damage caused by the stormwater detention project and whether or not the city will repair the holes. The city restored and renovated City Park Golf Course when it did a similar flood mitigation project there, but its opening has been delayed.

Westside is hoping to avoid the trouble of restoring a golf course altogether, but says it wants to collect community feedback first. Westside principal Kenneth Ho is leading the Park Hill project in its preliminary stages. "We hope that once this agreement is papered and finalized that we can have a robust neighborhood conversation about what the future of this land should be," Ho says. 
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Sara Fleming is a freelance writer and formal editorial fellow at Westword. She covers a wide variety of stories about local politics and communities. A born-and-raised Coloradan, when she's not exploring Denver, she's on a mission to visit every mountain town in the state.
Contact: Sara Fleming