At least 100 acres of parks and open space, priority housing programs for existing residents, and much more
See the draft Park Hill Golf Course Area Plan
After a year and a half of work with community members, a draft area plan that outlines the future vision for the Park Hill Golf Course property is now available for public review. From the start of the visioning process in January 2021 to the most recent open house in June 2022, what we heard most consistently from participants was a desire for: a large park and preserving open space; more affordable housing, including units for sale and for families; support for residents at risk of displacement; more community-supporting local businesses; assistance to help new local businesses thrive; and places that feel connected to the community.
In response to these themes, the draft plan delivers:
- An open space network of more than 100 acres of public parks and open space to be donated to the city by the property owner, with a regional park of 70-80 acres as the centerpiece, connected to Colorado Boulevard by multiple greenways
- Housing recommendations that call for income-restricted homes for rent, for sale, for families, for older residents, for residents who need supportive services, that prioritize the needs of existing residents and that address involuntary displacement
- A mix of uses and a new neighborhood main street, with recommendations that prioritize community-serving locally owned businesses, affordable commercial spaces, anti-displacement measures for existing businesses and greater access to fresh food and grocery for the surrounding neighborhoods
- Urban design that feels connected, culturally responsive and supports residents’ interest in spaces where they can come together
Read the plan for yourself!
See how the community contributed to the draft plan
Along with the key ideas for what to include in the plan, residents also consistently called for an inclusive and transparent process.
From the start, the city focused project resources on voices from the communities nearest to the golf course who would be most impacted by any decisions regarding this land.
- In 2021, the visioning process brought community members together in conversations that resulted in a set of shared priorities. These priorities emerged from input from community navigators, a statistically valid survey mailed to residents who live within 0.8 miles of the golf course, the community steering committee and the general public.
>> Read the prevailing vision
Learn more about the survey results
- The community steering committee has met monthly, developing their own recommendations which were incorporated into the prevailing vision and carried into the draft area plan, reviewing various land use concepts, discussing development alternatives, and reviewing preliminary recommendations for the draft plan.
>> Watch recordings of all committee meetings
- The general public was invited to weigh in through a series of surveys and virtual events.
>> Visit the Resources page to view all public input.
Get the facts
Throughout the visioning and planning process, community members have asked questions about the history and background of the property, the details of the conservation easement currently on the property, the process, and the potential rules, regulations and tools that might be put in place along with an area plan.
Find answers to those questions and more:
Information will be added as the process goes on and as we receive new questions from the public.
The current version of the public review draft will be available for comments until August 23. To be adopted, the draft plan must go through the public legislative process, which involves a public hearing and vote by both the Denver Planning Board and City Council. Once comments on the draft are reviewed and incorporated, we will post additional information on when those hearings might take place.
"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
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.
Who owns the Park Hill Golf Course?
The Park Hill Golf Course is owned by development firm Westside Investment Partners who originally purchased the property in June 2019. The Holleran Group joined Westside as a co-developer in 2020.
Biographies provided by Westside Investment Partners and the Holleran Group:
Westside Investment Partners is based in Denver and was founded in 1998 by Andy Klein, a Denver native and graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The company has developed projects in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and Texas and prioritizes a development process that lifts up communities and celebrates their histories. Kenneth Ho joined the Westside team as a principal in 2019 and leads the Park Hill Golf Course project.
The Holleran Group is a collaborative partnership of African American real estate developers, brokers, community outreach specialists and event and project managers. The Holleran Group believes in creating equitable opportunities and that everything they do should lead and empower communities to create solutions for sustainable wealth. Their vision is a future where they can leverage economic opportunities to build stronger, more inclusive communities. The Holleran Group is made up of Norman Harris, Ty Hubbard, Wayne Vaden, Herman White and Erica Wright – all long time Denverites.
Steps in this process
Starting in January 2021, city planners engaged 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.
2022 and beyond
City planners have been working with residents in 2022 to refine the prevailing vision into a coordinated park framework and area plan detailing park size, location, and considerations for future parks and open spaces along with more detailed land use recommendations.
Planning Process and Community Participation
As we build on the prevailing vision for the Park Hill Golf Course site, the process to create a coordinate park framework and area plan will align with the steps in our model for neighborhood planning:
- Understand the area
- Define the Issues and Develop Initial Recommendations
- Refine Recommendations
- Community Review of Draft Plan - Where we are currently
- Legislative Review and Public Hearings
- Citywide Vote on Partial or Full Release of Conservation Easement - Specific to Park Hill Golf Course
The process continues to be focused on the needs and opportunities for those who will be most directly affected by decisions on the Park Hill Golf Course. Members of the public continue to be able to share their thoughts in multiple ways, and their input continues to inform every step of the process. Specifically, community engagement has involved work by the community steering committee and community navigators throughout the process, and events for the whole community with online alternatives for those not able to attend.
After the community-driven guidance in the area plan takes shape, Denver City Council will vote on the plan and potentially other related actions, including an update to the conservation easement, zoning and other commitments that implement and enforce the area plan. When there is a clear proposal for how the conservation easement should be updated, the city will also refer the matter to a public vote in accordance with Ballot Initiative 301.
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.
What is an area plan?
An area plan uses community input to provide policy recommendations and regulatory guidance in advance of possible future change. In the case of the Park Hill Golf Course, residents made it clear during a community visioning process in 2021 that they wanted to see this private golf course become a large public park, with related neighborhood-serving features, such as space for local businesses, affordable housing options, more youth sports and recreation, access to fresh food, and more. The city began the small area plan process in 2022 to create the policy and regulatory guidance that could achieve these outcomes.
Examples of other recent area plans
Small area plans like this have been used many times around the city before, including for:
Implementing and enforcing the plan
The area plan won’t set specifics—such as how many buildings will be built or the amount/type of housing—but the recommendations will inform other tools the city can put in place on the property that do provide additional detail, like zoning rules and a development agreement.
The following tools will move forward alongside the area plan. These tools will implement and enforce the area plan.
Large development review (LDR)
In Denver, major projects go through LDR to ensure they have clear direction on how they are expected to meet priorities important to Denver’s neighborhoods, including providing infrastructure improvements, parks and open space, and quality design for the neighborhood. Westside Investment Partners initiated large development review for the Park Hill Golf Course property in 2021.
Learn more about large development review
Rezoning (zoning rules)
Rezoning is a public process to change how property is used, what building forms are allowed and where. Rezoning is an applicant-driven process, which means that the timing of a rezoning is up to the property owner. Rezoning applications are evaluated by city staff against a list of criteria, including consistency with adopted plans. Through this process, the city will establish new zoning rules for the Park Hill Golf Course property that enforce the recommendations of the small area plan.
Please note: Rezoning would change only the zone districts that apply to the property. It would not change the status of the conservation easement.
A development agreement is a binding contract between the city and a developer or property owner. It addresses infrastructure and other required public improvements or amenities. The development agreement will enforce some of the recommendations in the area plan.
Examples of two recent development agreements:
- To help implement the Loretto Heights small area plan, the city required the developer to sign an agreement to provide affordable housing, protect many of the historic buildings on the site, and create publicly accessible open space for the surrounding community. The 2019 Loretto Heights Small Area Plan recommended use of a development agreement to secure these benefits.
As part of the agreements established for the River Mile redevelopment downtown, at least 15% of all future residential units must be affordable – some at the 0-30% AMI level, some at 30-60% AMI, and some at 60-80% AMI – and must include a range of home types, including larger 3-bedroom units for families. The developer is also required to build the core & shell of a new community recreation center.
Conservation easement and Ballot Initiative 301
Read the 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.
Q. Why plan for any development if the conservation easement is still in place?
A. Community members have expressed a desire for the property to be used in a way that better serves their needs than a golf course. These priorities include a large regional park, a grocery store, more affordable housing and community-serving businesses, and more recreational opportunities for young people. None of this is allowed while the easement is in place.
The purpose of planning ahead of time is to create a set of policies and rules so that if the easement is ever released, the outcome of what happens on the property is predictable and reflects the community’s vision and needs.
Q. Is the city allowed to do a plan when there’s a conservation easement on the property?
A. Yes, the city is allowed to facilitate a visioning and planning process for the future of the area while other rules for what may happen there exist.
Although this process is focused on land with a single property owner, it is not that different from planning that takes place at a neighborhood or citywide scale. Those types of plans also involve properties that have certain restrictions or zoning that limit what can be built or how the property can be used at the time of the planning process. Planning is an opportunity for community members to have a say in what happens in the future of their neighborhood and is most effective when done ahead of major changes or growth, so that future development meets their needs and addresses their concerns. That’s precisely what’s happening here.
Q. How did Ballot Initiative 301 affect this process?
A. In the November 2021 election, voters decided how conservation easements can be partially or fully released in Denver. Here’s what that vote means for this project:
- Before Ballot Initiative 301: Any release of the easement had to be approved by City Council.
- After Ballot Initiative 301: Any release of easement must be approved by City Council and a majority of Denver voters in a municipal election.
- What that means: The City of Denver can continue to build on its work from 2021 and refine the eight shared priorities into a clear plan so voters can make an informed decision about the golf course in a future election.
- Ballot Initiative 301 did NOT:
- address whether development should or should not happen on the property
- prohibit any changes on the property in perpetuity
- guarantee this private property would be turned into public park
The result of Ballot Initiative 301 guaranteed that Denver voters will have a role in any potential release of the conservation easement. The planning process is meant to provide a framework for the site so that if the question of whether to release the easement does come before voters in the future, residents have an assurance of what will happen at the site if they vote to release the easement.
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:
Q. Why not explore the surrounding neighborhoods for development instead?
Q. Why should this be developed when housing is being built on other lots?
A. Development and additional housing becoming available in one property does not preclude city from pursuing additional opportunities elsewhere. The city has and continues to explore opportunities beyond this site and is doing what’s possible to lay the groundwork for and remove barriers to projects that can help alleviate the city’s housing shortage.
Because the developer does not have the entitlement to build on the property and because of the vote on the easement on the property, the city and the community have the leverage to request commitments from the developer. This offers a unique opportunity to provide housing along with additional amenities and resources that the community has asked for and needed for a long time.
Q. What about redeveloping industrial areas near the site instead?
A. The value manufacturing area to the east of the golf course is home to many active and viable businesses. The long-term vision for a large portion of this area is to remain a job center, which improves access to middle skill jobs and reduces commuting demands on our transportation network.
Q. How much money has the city spent on this planning process?
A. The Community Planning and Development budget for 2020 was $35.7 million and for 2021 was $30.2 million. Out of this, the budget that goes toward Planning Services was $7 million in 2020 and $6 million in 2021. Within that, the Park Hill Golf Course community visioning and subsequent planning work totaled approximately $199,000 in 2020 and approximately $61,000 in 2021, which is typical for a community planning project. Additionally, Denver City Council and city leadership have recognized the need to ensure there was a high level of community input and planning before future major redevelopments around the city could be considered – and that this work should not be funded exclusively by citizens but should also be funded by the property owner or developer. As such, city rules required Westside Investment Partners to pay $320,000 toward this work, which was paid in February 2022. This does not include permitting or other standard regulatory fees.
Starting in January 2021, city planners from Community Planning and Development and Denver Parks and Recreation listened to what residents had to say about the future of the golf course property.
Area residents weighed in through surveys, at public workshops and events, in small groups and conversations with Community Navigators, on comment forms, and through a Community Steering Committee that met monthly.
Residents expressed the most support for these priorities:
- Create a new, large park and community gathering places
- Stand up an oversight committee to guide future planning and development
- Preserve and expand the tree canopy to combat urban heat island effects in this area
- Add youth and recreational sports opportunities
- Include a variety of affordable (income-restricted) housing options, including for-sale units
- Address food insecurity by including space for grocery and fresh food choices
- Create space for local businesses and businesses owned by people of color
- Employ strategies to mitigate involuntary displacement
Download the Prevailing Vision summary
Vision Predominante - Español
The priorities outlined above came from these forms of public input:
Community Navigators aim to encourage participation from underrepresented populations, including seniors, youth, Latinx, African Americans, and renters in the Northeast Park Hill, Elyria Swansea, and Clayton neighborhoods. Each navigator was experienced in working with culturally diverse populations and pledged to be a neutral facilitator. Navigators were prohibited from taking a stance on any specific outcome related to the golf course.
From March to May 2022, Community Navigators...
- hosted 6 Community Talks, which were small group conversations of around 8-12 people,
- hosted 32 one-on-one conversations,
- and altogether engaged more than 100 community members.
From February to July 2021, Community Navigators...
- hosted 18 Community Talks and
- 101 one-on-one conversations.
The community's top priorities for the potential redevelopment of the area are
- Housing: This was one of the most discussed themes in both 2021 and 2022. Community members expressed desires that heavily focused on affordable housing, preserving and promoting diversity, and building family-ready housing.
- Retail: Priorities included promoting small and minority businesses, and grocery and healthy food options.
- Parks and open space: Community members mainly discussed how the parks could contribute to the feeling of diversity and inclusion.
Top themes that emerged in conversations with residents included a desire for recreational opportunities like parks and open space, some local retail space including for groceries, and more affordably priced for-sale homes. The most popular topic discussed was a desire for the next phase of the former golf course to create community, with ways for people to cultivate bonds with neighbors in outdoor spaces, such as parks and outdoor venues, through small businesses, and over food. The desire for community connections was common across differing viewpoints and bridged the gap between development and open space.
View the 2022 Community Voice Report
The Community Navigators program was administered by Denver Metro Community Impact.
The survey is one of multiple ways the city is listening to the community in this process. The city hired RRC Associates, a market research firm, to conduct two public surveys on the future of Park Hill Golf Course. One survey was mailed to residents in the neighborhoods around the golf course. The other survey was available online and was open to anyone, regardless of where they lived. Both surveys contained the same questions.
Download the survey questions
Altogether, 1,302 surveys were completed and returned by residents who live within one mile of the golf course. Approximately 6,000 surveys were mailed. While not every household within a mile of the golf course received or completed a survey, 1,302 responses is more than three times the number of responses needed to be considered statistically significant (PDF).
Of these 1,302 residents who live within one-mile of the property, 70% favored some development of the site; 22% preferred for the site to be green space only; 8% favored development-oriented uses only, without green space; and only 7% of respondents wanted to see the entire property remain a golf course.
In addition, 1,388 online surveys were filled out by people citywide.
View an interactive dashboard of all survey results
Download the full survey report.(PDF, 7MB) (Public comments begin on page 70.)
November 2021: Download the steering committee's Vision Summary(PDF, 5MB)
About this committee
Community Planning and Development and Denver Parks and Recreation worked with local leaders in assembling a community steering committee to help guide a neighborhood-centered conversation on the future of the Park Hill Golf Course. Committee members 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. All steering committee meetings are announced in advance and are open to the public to observe.
In November 2021, the steering committee delivered recommendations to the city in the form of a Vision Summary. The committee's Vision Summary captured the broad, independent views and feelings of the committee's members. It is not a statement of consensus, but identifies similarities and differences of various visions for the future of the golf course. The City and County of Denver considered these recommendations along with the input received from the community survey and Community Navigators in forming the prevailing vision(PDF, 833KB).
Members and affiliations
||Organization, role or interest
||Parks and open space advocacy, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, professional experience at The Trust for Public Land
|Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali
||Overlook at Park Hill
||Northeast Park Hill Coalition
||Collaborative Healing Initiative within Communities
|Rev. Eugene Downing
||Elyria and Swansea Neighborhood Association
||Northeast Denver Transportation Connections
||Youth and family and health advocacy
||Greater Park Hill Community
||Property owner representative
| Shyretta Hudnall
||Business community voice
||Park Hill Village Neighborhood
||Affordable Housing Advocacy
||Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
||East Denver Residents Council
||Business community voice
|Pastor Del Phillips
||Affordable housing advocacy
How the committee came together
Our priority in forming this committee was to ensure that the group would reflect the diversity of the neighborhood surrounding the golf course, both in demographics and interests. An interest form was posted from October 30, 2020 to January 8, 2021, resulting in more than 200 applications. Initially, 27 members were selected. Since the start of the process, the group has evolved but overall, committee membership remains a cross section of the community--residents, renters, local business owners, advocates and civic leaders--bringing a wide range of voices and ideas to the process.
The table above lists the committee's current roster. The demographic information below represents the group's make up at the start of the process.
Key demographic information
Data and selection criteria are available for download at the links below.
Download demographic data for committee (PDF)
Download selection criteria (PDF)
Prevailing Vision summary: English(PDF, 833KB) | Español(PDF, 719KB)
These documents were prepared by city planners in conjunction with researchers to assess the conditions of the surrounding area, including traffic, sidewalks, bike lanes, transit stops, local economy and market, parks, open spaces, notable environmental features, and more.
These documents reflect the opinions of residents who participated in the visioning process by completing a survey or speaking with a community navigator. City planners are continuing to collect public input throughout the summer and will use this to determine the city's next steps.
The golf course is currently subject to a conservation easement, which limits the use of this land to a golf course.
If you use assistive technology and need help reading content in these files, please contact Courtney Levingston at 720-865-3074.
If you use assistive technology and need additional help with any of the documents below, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Steering Committee #15
July 19, 2022
In-person and Online Community Workshop
June 30, 2022
Park Hill Golf Course Clubhouse
The open house gave attendees the opportunity to review and weigh in on draft recommendations and maps at their own pace. The materials were also posted online for an additional week for those who were not able to attend in person. Comments were submitted through online surveys and collected on paper at the open house, and in conversation with staff at the open house.
Community Steering Committee #14
June 14, 2022
Community Steering Committee #13
May 10, 2022
Community Steering Committee #12
April 12, 2022
Virtual Community Workshop
March 23, 2022
This workshop included 15 break-out groups. The video recordings show the presentation before the break-out rooms and the small group report out after. Each group took notes on three draft framework concepts on the Miro board available below and self-reported to the full audience during the last 30 minutes of the workshop. The concepts were also posted online for those who could not attend the workshop.
Community Steering Committee #11
March 8, 2022
Community Steering Committee #10
February 8, 2022
Community Steering Committee #9
January 19, 2022
Community Steering Committee #8
October 12, 2021
Community Steering Committee #7
September 14, 2021
August 3, 2021
This workshop included multiple break-out groups, and the middle of the video recording may jump around between break-out rooms. Each group took notes on the Miro board available below and self-reported to the full audience during the last 30 minutes of the workshop.
Community Steering Committee #6
July 27, 2021
Community Steering Committee #5
June 29, 2021
Community Steering Committee #4
June 8, 2021
Community Steering Committee #3
May 18, 2021
Virtual Open House
March 25, 2021
Community Steering Committee #2
March 9, 2021
Community Steering Committee #1
February 9, 2021
July 13, 2022: Thank you for your feedback! Here's what's next
June 29, 2022: Weigh in on draft area plan recommendations
June 15, 2022: Community Open House happening in two weeks!
June 2, 2022: Save the date: Community Open House on June 30
March 25, 2022: Submit your feedback!
Comment on three draft framework concepts
March 16, 2022: REMINDER: Register for the upcoming community workshop
Virtual event happening Wednesday, March 23
March 2, 2022: Register for the upcoming community workshop
Virtual event happening Wednesday, March 23
January 2022: January 2022 Update
Next steps to detail a proposal for Denver City Council and Denver voters to consider
December 2021: Resident vision for Park Hill Golf Course centers on a new, large park and community gathering spaces
Plus: Next steps to detail a proposal for Denver City Council and Denver voters to consider
July 2021: Community survey results are in!
Plus: Join us August 3 for a virtual workshop
May 2021: Dr. Ryan Ross to lead Park Hill Golf Course committee
Inside: Meet Dr. Ross and learn what's next for the visioning process
March 2021: Park Hill Golf Course: Join us for a virtual open house March 25
Inside: March meeting dates and a Community Navigators update
February 2021: A community steering committee launches for the Park Hill Golf Course
Inside: January meetings with neighborhood groups and an introduction to Community Navigators
Sign up to receive email updates