An oasis of green space has become a lightning rod in ongoing debates about gentrification, open spaces and racial equity
Caroline Tracey Tue 18 May 2021 06.00 EDT
For decades, the clubhouse of the Park Hill golf course in north-east Denver, Colorado, hosted weddings and graduation parties for residents of nearby neighborhoods. “It’s been a very valuable resource to this community, when you need event space and can’t afford swankier venues,” said Shanta Harrison, who lives eight blocks away.
The 155-acre golf course stands out as an island of green space in the middle of the only remaining neighborhoods in Denver where over 40% of residents identify as African American. And according to state law, it’s supposed to stay that way forever: since 1997, the property has been under a conservation easement – a deed restriction stating that it can never be developed.
But in the last year, the golf course has become a lightning rod in ongoing debates about gentrification, open spaces and racial equity in Denver. In 2019, the developer Westside Investment Partners bought the private golf course, and has since gestured at big plans: a mixed-use vision that includes both market-rate and affordable housing, businesses, as well as a grocery store and a park.
“We bought it because we knew we could do so much better than a golf course,” said Westside principal Kenneth Ho.