By Eric Heinz
The city of Denver has released a set of recommendations for the development of about 155 acres of the old Park Hill Golf Course, with more land set aside for parks and open space.
The website with updates on the plans for the old golf course now includes ideas for transportation infrastructure and income- restricted housing. Glendale-based Westside Investment Partners bought the property in 2019 for $24 million.
Westside separately negotiated with Arcis, the company that operated the golf course, to acquire their interests. Since then, the developers have hosted community meetings, and last year, Initiative 301 passed requiring a citywide vote on the development of properties that have a conservation easement, which Park Hill does. City council would also have to approve changing or waiving the easement.
The redevelopment only happens after a series of planning steps have been taken, a spokesman working with Westside said.
Westside principal Kenneth Ho, who is also part of the more than two dozen-member steering committee discussing the recommended uses for the property, told The G.E.S. Gazette the city is not establishing the actual development plans, but rather it has “set forth a series of recommendations on what could feasibly be built.”
“The next step is actually going from these recommendations to an actual developer vision,” Ho said, adding that the recommendations have been based on feedback from the communities. “(Steering committee members) were all providing our perspectives, along with other elements, including the surveys. They did utilize a group called Denver Metro Community Impact to do community navigator reports, which are unscientific but reach into the community to find out what real people want.”
Originally, Westside said it would commit to keeping at least 60 acres as open and park space, but since then it has increased that commitment to at least 100 acres, nearly two-thirds of the property.
Ho said the addition of more open space acreage was a “trade-off” from the steering committee that could allow developers to create more income-restricted units to be built, for example. Specific development plans have not yet been submitted to the city by Westside, but Ho said they could be filed “soon.”
“Everybody in the steering committee understands there’s a massive housing crisis, but we’re looking for balance,” he said. “There were some people on the committee who thought we should have more open space and parks, and some people on the committee who thought we should have less. I think that, like all great compromises, not everyone gets what they want, and we’re looking for something that can work.”
The new recommendations include ideas for housing, quality of life, economics, mobility, design quality, and land use. A public survey on the recommendations was completed July 7 with results to come. Some of the highlights include the possibility of creating a community center and bringing in a grocery store.
The plans also include maintaining as many of the existing trees as possible. Housing recommendations include requiring some of the income-restricted units be reserved for “at-risk” applicants from surrounding neighborhoods for a “set amount of time.”
Also included is a commitment to additional funding for existing programs that help residents within a mile of the Park Hill Golf Course purchase a home. The recommendations also include assisting current residents keep their homes with programs like property tax rebates, foreclosure prevention assistance, and others.
Later this year, based on feedback from the open houses and surveys, the city will put together a draft community plan on the land usage.
“I’ve had hundreds, thousands of conversations, and frankly, we’re excited to get to this stage of the process,” Ho said. “We can now take these recommendations and really put forth a developer vision that responds to those recommendations and really gives life to a plan.”