Park Hill Golf Course Area Visioning Process

About the visioning process

Brief background

From the 1980s through 2019, the Park Hill Golf Course land was privately owned by the Clayton Foundation (which later became Clayton Early Learning). The golf course itself was operated by Arcis Golf. The golf course closed in 2018, and in 2019, Clayton Early Learning sold the land to Westside Investment Partners. 

Since the 1990s, an easement has been in place on the land, which limits its use to a daily fee, 18-hole golf course. This easement is still in place today. A 2019 legal agreement between the city and the new owner allows up to three years for a public process to determine if the community wants to continue limiting the future use of this property to a golf course.

"My priorities for the property and for the neighborhood have always been preserving open space and extensive community input. This agreement ensures we will have both. The easement will be preserved while the neighbors who are most impacted by this property will be able to guide its future use." -- Mayor Michael B. Hancock

What do you want to see happen with the Park Hill Golf Course?

Do you want to see...

  • restoration of the golf course?
  • public park amenities?
  • neighborhood stores and services?
  • simply open space?
  • a bank, entertainment, housing, after-school programs, community gardens?
  • some combination of these? (how much, where?)
  • or something completely new?

We want to hear from you! Join us throughout 2021 as we meet with residents and listen to their perspectives. We will have a variety of ways to participate, including virtual workshops, focus groups, activities, surveys, or simply talking with a member of our team.

Steps in this process

First, city planners will engage the community -- especially the neighbors who are most impacted by this property -- to understand people's visions and hopes for the land, and to identify ways to achieve neighborhood goals, including thoughtfully designed parks and open space that can become a neighborhood resource. 

Next, if a community vision supports the idea of adding new uses in this area, we will continue working with residents to draft policy recommendations on how to achieve the vision. We would then incorporate these into a written and formal small area plan that is ultimately sent to Denver Planning Board and City Council for review and adoption. 

In addition, this process would include drafting any development agreements related to implementing and enforcing the plan with the current property owner and supporting the formation of any additional community benefits agreements as needed or desired.

Altogether, this work is likely to take a year or more, and will inform any future discussions on whether to lift or amend the current conservation easement. All work is done in conjunction with the public, and community input is requested at each stage, as we work together to create and implement a well-thought-out plan.

Conservation easement

In 1997, the city agreed to pay The George W. Clayton Trust (Clayton) $2 million to acquire a set of use restrictions on the Park Hill Golf Course limiting the use of that land to a regulation-length 18-hole public golf course with a daily fee. The use restrictions represent a private restrictive covenant and a real property interest owned by the city. They are still in place today. If there is no approved plan within three years, the city can require Westside to return the property to an 18-hole golf course according to the terms of the settlement agreement.

The current zoning of the property is OS-B (open space recreation district), but the use restrictions contained in the conservation easement further limit the use of the property to an 18-hole golf course.

The conservation easement in place for the Park Hill Golf Course is a unique and unusual situation in Denver. For example, it does not function to preserve the land for natural habitat protection, which would be a typical use of a conservation easement, but rather it preserves the land for use as a fee-based golf course. As such, the city believes there is a clear legal path under state law that would allow for modifications to be made to the conservation easement, such as lifting the golf course use restriction, if there is community and City Council support for doing so.

Download more information:

Legal settlement with the city

In late 2019, the city finalized a Settlement Agreement with Westside Investment Partners that maintains existing land use restrictions at the privately-owned Park Hill Golf Course and guarantees the community and City Council will have a defining role in any proposed changes.

Above all, the Settlement Agreement maintains the requirement for Westside to get City Council approval to make changes to the land. It also gives Westside no less than three years to complete a community engagement process to explore a different vision for the land that is not exclusively focused on a golf course, as required by the Conservation Easement. After that time, absent an approved plan, the agreement gives the city the right to require Westside to restore the land to a golf course at Westside's expense.

Additionally, the city acquired 25 acres in the northeast corner of the property to build a stormwater detention basin for the Platte to Park Hill (P2P) project in order to prevent flooding. In consideration for the real estate interests acquired by the city, the city paid Westside $6 million. The payment will cover any potential costs incurred for future restoration of the golf course if a consensus on an alternative plan fails to materialize.

The settlement brings to an end all litigation relating to the property.

Please see the following downloads related to the settlement:

Community Steering Committee

Community Planning and Development and Denver Parks and Recreation are assembling a community steering committee to help guide a neighborhood-centered conversation on the future of the Park Hill Golf Course. The interest form for people to apply to join the steering committee was open from October 30, 2020 - January 8, 2021. Our priority in forming this committee is to ensure that this group reflects the diversity of the neighborhood surrounding the golf course, both in demographics and interests. 

We aim for a committee of approximately 25 participants. These individuals will meet monthly to help review and consider public feedback, engage others in the visioning process, and ultimately recommend actions for consideration by Denver City Council.

Once all members have been selected and notified, the membership list will be posted here. Download selection criteria.

All steering committee meetings will be announced in advance and are open to the public to observe.