The city of Denver is ready to end the legal conflicts that have ensnared a valuable piece of property in the city’s northeast. But a proposed settlement may be just the beginning of a long and contentious political fight over the future of the Park Hill Golf Club.
The property — a rare 155-acre chunk of open space in an urbanizing city — has been through a head-spinning series of legal maneuvers over the last few years. It has been the prize for intense wrangling between its former nonprofit owner, the city government and a for-profit golf company, and the subject of a couple lawsuits.
The developer Westside Investment Partners bought the land this summer for $24 million, but it still was shadowed by legal disputes. On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Hancock’s office announced that a proposed agreement “would end litigation involving the property.”
The settlement will not allow any development on the land. Only a vote of City Council can do that. “We wanted a guarantee that Denver would have a right to provide input about the property’s future,” Hancock said in a news release.
The biggest legal questions include a lawsuit over an ongoing city flood-control project on the land. Early this year, the city took possession of about 35 acres of the course to complete the project. The parent of the former golf course operator, Arcis Golf, sued the city for damaging its business.
The new owner, Westside, took over that lawsuit. City officials wouldn’t say whether the settlement included a payment from the city to Westside, saying that the agreement wasn’t final yet.
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The operator of the now-closed Park Hill Golf Club this week sued the City of Denver, asking a court to prevent construction work affecting four holes until an agreement is in place regarding how the operator will be compensated for expenses related to the course closing.
Texas-based golf course operator Arcis Golf, whose lease on the 155-acre course runs through 2023 and makes the company responsible for maintaining the property, claims in the lawsuit that it doesn’t currently have such an agreement with either the city or Clayton Early Learning, the golf course owner.
The city’s Department of Public Works has fenced off around 35 acres of the golf course on the northern end of the course — about four holes — and is building a flood mitigation holding area, according to the lawsuit. The course closed at the end of 2018 because of the work.
“Neither the city nor Clayton has given us any indication of how our costs for the next few years will be reimbursed while the course is closed,” said Scott Siddons, Arcis’ general counsel. “The only way to force the issue is to file a reverse condemnation lawsuit.”