Wellington Webb Doesn’t Want Park Hill Golf Club to Be Next “Paved Paradise”

By  | JULY 9, 2019 | Westword

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A deal set to close on Thursday will put 155 acres of open space in the heart of northeast Denver — currently the Park Hill Golf Club — into the hands of developer Westside Investment Partners. The deal is the latest episode in a contentious and lawsuit-ridden negotiation between the city, current owner Clayton Early Learning, and locals who don’t want to see the land built up.

One of the loudest recent voices in the fight is former mayor Wellington Webb, who thought that his administration had protected the land permanently over twenty years ago. “The goal was to save the land as open space,” says Webb, who had no intention of being a stalwart on this issue — “I hoped somebody else would do it. I’m semi-retired!” — but now feels compelled to speak out.

“[Open space] is what makes cities unique,” he says. “Cities without open space, they tend to [have] too much density, too many crowds…just a terrible way for a city to live.”

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SAVE THE PARK HILL GOLF COURSE LAND FROM DEVELOPMENT

Needing money in 1997 during the Webb administration, the George W. Clayton Trust (“Clayton”) was interested in a transaction with the City involving the Park Hill Golf Course (“PHGC”) land. Clayton hired an appraiser who valued Clayton’s potential development rights for the PHGC land at $2 million. Based upon that valuation, Clayton negotiated with the City for Clayton to receive $2 million in exchange for Clayton’s grant of a perpetual open space conservation easement on the PHGC land to the City. Clayton thereby relinquished its development rights in the property, which is zoned OS-B (Open Space-Recreation). In 2000, for the tax benefit of Clayton, the City and Clayton entered into an agency agreement (“agency agreement”) whereby the conservation easement was released subject to Clayton’s obligation to grant it again in the event that Clayton might terminate the agency agreement.

Since at least 2017, the future of the PHGC land perpetual open space conservation easement has been in jeopardy.

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No Park In Denver Is Safe

Former Mayor Wellington Webb Urges Residents To Oppose Developing Park Hill Golf Course Land

By Cara DeGette

Editor, GPHN

Declaring that “no park in Denver is safe” if developers are allowed free rein, former Mayor Wellington Webb is urging Denver residents to contact their council representatives and register opposition to efforts to develop the 155 acres that is currently the site of the Park Hill Golf Course.

Webb’s late June press conference came shortly after a surprise deal surfaced that a development company, Westside Investment Partners, plans to close on a contract for the land on July 11.

“I’m asking residents to send City Council a message to figure out a way to maintain this land as open space,” Webb said.

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What Is Clayton Early Learning and Why Does It Own Park Hill Golf Club?

Parks and open-space advocates — including former Denver mayor Wellington Webb — were dismayed to learn that the now-shuttered Park Hill Golf Club will be sold to developers. The current owner is set to close a deal with Westside Investment Partners on July 11.

Neither side has announced particular development plans. The deal is wrapped up in a mess of pending litigation between the city and golf club operator Arcis Golf, and the land is currently subject to a conservation easement agreed to in 1997 that prohibits development. Still, advocates fear that the move could turn 155 acres of rolling green grass into housing complexes, office buildings and retail space.

The land that makes up Park Hill Golf Club is part of the George W. Clayton Trust, which is managed by Clayton Early Learning — a nonprofit that isn’t in the business of golf, open space or real estate, but serves low-income children and is a well-regarded preschool and educational research institute. And it’s on the hunt for more funds.

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History of Clayton Campus and Why It Is Selling Park Hill Golf Club _ Westword

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