Park Hill Golf Course Referred to Voters

Published on January 24, 2023

Park Hill Golf Course Rezoning, Ballot Language Approved

Denver voters to decide on easement on property, potential redevelopment in April election

DENVER – The Denver City Council has voted to approve a regulatory package that will create legally binding requirements for the Park Hill Golf Course property, should Denver voters in an upcoming citywide election vote to lift a conservation easement currently in place on the property.

The rezoning and development agreement approved tonight puts in place regulations that align with the community vision for the area, as laid out in the Park Hill Golf Course Small Area Plan. The plan was adopted by City Council last month and was the result of extensive outreach in Northeast Denver over the last two years.

“From the beginning, my priorities here were preserving open space and extensive community input,” said Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “Thousands of residents came forward to share their voice, and this plan—which achieved a balance between a new large park and providing uses and services residents of this neighborhood have lacked for far too long—reflects that. With the rules in place now to make their vision happen, we believe the voters have what they need to make an informed decision on this proposal.”

"I want to thank the community for the time and effort they dedicated to helping develop a vision that prioritizes the needs and wants of the surrounding area. So many people worked diligently to ensure that neighborhood voices were heard and included over the course of this extensive process. I'm proud of the results of this collaborative work,” said District 8 Councilman, Christopher J. Herndon.

“We look forward to the result of the vote this spring,” said Happy Haynes, executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation. “If voters decide to approve the measure and move forward, we will be prepared to begin the planning process for a new park that reflects the community’s vision. I appreciate the community’s openness and candor throughout the process and the role of city staff to genuinely reflect those diverse voices in creating a dynamic and balanced plan for the community.”  

“Throughout this process, despite many differing ideas and opinions, the principle everyone agreed on was that the community’s voice was the most important piece of the puzzle,” said Laura E. Aldrete, executive director of Community Planning and Development. “City staff put in an incredible amount of effort to bring forward a plan and regulations that reflect community input, and—most importantly—that reflects thoughtful, sustainable growth as outlined in our city’s land use plan, Blueprint Denver.”

April 2023 Ballot Question

Along with the regulatory package, City Council approved language for a ballot measure that will appear on the ballot for all Denver voters in the municipal election on April 4. This ballot question gives Denver voters the opportunity to decide whether to remove or not the conservation easement currently on the property. Today, this easement restricts the land’s current use to a golf course. If voters choose to remove the easement, the use of the property will instead be regulated by the package adopted by City Council tonight.

The ballot question reads as follows:

Shall the voters of the City and County of Denver authorize the release of the City-owned conservation easement on privately owned property known as the Park Hill Golf Course, which requires the land to be used primarily for golf-related purposes, and allow for commercial and residential development, including affordable housing, and public regional park, trail and open space?

About the Regulatory Package

Both the zoning and the development agreement adopted tonight “run with the land,” meaning they would continue to apply even if the property ownership changes:

  • Sets aside a majority of the land – 100 acres of the 155 total acres – for parks, open space and trails
  • Rezones from private open space to public open space and a mix of main street and mixed-use zoning to allow for various housing types and commercial uses in line with community priorities in the plan, including affordable housing for seniors and families, fresh food access and other local community-serving businesses
  • Affordable housing requirements double the city’s minimum to ensure at least 25% of any new housing built on this property will be affordable to a range of income levels and remain affordable for at least 99 years
  • Funds toward public improvements and public park features like landscaping, a splash pad or aquatic amenity, playgrounds, athletic fields and restrooms, as well as building the 303 ArtWay Heritage Trail along the western edge of the new public park
  • Traffic and pedestrian safety improvements for surrounding streets and intersections

About the Park Hill Golf Course Area Plan 

Public outreach in 2021 found that only 7% of area residents wanted to see this property remain a golf course, and over the course of two years, more than 2,500 residents helped craft an inclusive vision for a new future for the site. Their vision is captured in the adopted plan. Highlights include:

  • 100 acres of new public parks, open spaces and trails, including
  • Increasing the tree canopy coverage from about 7% today to at least 20%
  • Recommendations for new sports fields, recreation features, and parks amenities, water-wise landscaping, and the integration of stormwater detention into a cohesive landscape
  • And on the remaining 55 acres,
  • Affordable housing recommendations that serve a wider range of incomes than typically required, with priority for Denver households at risk of displacement
  • Space for fresh-food access, particularly at 35th Ave. and Colorado Blvd.
  • Support for small, local businesses

Initiated Ordinance 301 approved by Denver voters in 2021 guaranteed voters the ability to remove or not a city-owned conservation easement. The current easement limits this privately-owned property’s use to a golf course. Denver voters would need to vote affirmatively to lift the easement before any of the future changes could be implemented.

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