- Study commissioned in 2021 by Denver Parks & Recreation identifies 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. This information was 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 (Ballot Measure 2 A) 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 Southeast Denver to be used for park land. The PHGC land with the City-owned 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 purchased this PHGC land subject to the conservation easement but with plans to break the conservation easement and develop the land.
- Despite the fact that voters gave a decisive “NO” to Westside in November 2021 (Ballot Initiatives 301 & 302), the Hancock Administration and Westside moved forward with the expensive 2021-2022 Community Planning and Development Department planning process and Referred Question 2 0 which voters overwhelmingly defeated on April 4, 2023.
- 1997 – The City (under Mayor Wellington Webb) purchases the City-owned conservation easement for the 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 (Ballot Measure 2 A) which is dedicated for improvement and expansion of Denver’s parks and recreation system.
- July 2019 – Westside purchases the PHGC land subject to the City-owned conservation easement.
- 2019 – The City pays $5.1 million for ONLY 1.9 acres in Southeast Denver to create a new park. The 155-acres PHGC land with the intact City-owned 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 City-owned 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 Initiated Ordinance 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 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.
- January 23, 2023 – City Council approves Westside’s Rezoning Application by an illegal majority vote that ignores sufficient Protest Petitions submitted by adjoining landowners that mandated a supermajority vote.
- January 23, 2023 – City Council also approves the Development-Land Exchange Agreement, the Metro District Plan, and the ballot language for Referred Question 2 O.
- April 4, 2023 – the voters overwhelmingly defeat Referred Question 2 O and thereby trigger automatic termination of the Development-Land Exchange Agreement and the Metro District Plan.
- June 20, 2023 – City Council repeals the January 23 rezoning of the PHGC land and restores the Open Space-Recreation (OS-B) zoning for the land.
- August 2023 – Mayor Mike Johnston’s Parks and Recreation Transition Committee issues report including the recommendation that the “administration must act boldly and quickly in acquiring the Park Hill Golf Course property based on the will of the Denver voters.”