Denver leaders this week are launching a planning process for the 155-acre former Park Hill Golf Club site that has been protected as golf-related open space under a legal restriction that blocks development.
City officials on Monday told The Denver Post their “visioning” process is necessary to explore how this conservation easement could be changed.
But a coalition of residents ramped up their opposition, saying city officials are wasting time and money planning for development that cannot be done.
At a forum Monday, opponents urged city leaders to use $5 million in open space tax funds to buy back the land developer Westside Investment Partners purchased for $24 million in 2019. They said this is a last relatively inexpensive chance to preserve open space near the city center, casting it as a battle for justice and the soul of the city.
The company that purchased the Park Hill Golf Club property in the summer of 2019 has named a partner as it pursues redevelopment.
Glendale-based Westside Investment Partners, which paid $24 million for the shuttered 150-acre course along Colorado Boulevard, said Thursday that The Holleran Group has joined the redevelopment ownership team.
Denver-based Holleran will focus on community outreach and engagement.
“We’ve consistently said that we want to have the voice of the community involved here, and we think that this partnership increases our capacity for that,” Westside Principal Kenneth Ho said during a press call.
The city is preparing to lead a small-area planning process for the property, which will involve collecting community feedback, Ho said.
Holleran was formed in 2017 by Norman Harris and Ty Hubbard, two Black Denver natives, according to its website. The firm is involved in the acquisition, development and management of real estate.
Harris said development of the former course — which can’t happen without several key approvals from the city — needs to benefit the neighborhoods that surround it.
“We discovered Holleran and Westside’s values align around a socially equitable approach to development that not only assures that our neighborhood has the loudest voice in the process but that the neighborhood shares in the economic benefit,” Harris said.
He added, “Our ultimate outcome needs to be the empowerment of the northeast Denver community.”
Hubbard said neighborhood financial benefits could come in the form of “homeownership, job creation, investment opportunities and other initiatives.”
The property currently has a conservation easement on it, which essentially restricts use to an 18-hole golf course. That could be amended by the Denver City Council, which would also need to approve a rezoning of the property.
In August, Denver City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca asked her colleagues to place a measure on the city’s November ballot that would have allowed voters to determine whether the course could be redeveloped. But the council voted 10 to 3 to instead demote CdeBaca’s bill to committee for further discussion.
Redevelopment of the course is expected to include numerous uses. Ho has said that Westside will set aside at least 60 of the acres as a park.