One More Time: Park Hill Golf Course

 “How 155 acres of Northeast Park Hill became a golf course you keep having to vote on.”  —The Denverite, March 7, 2023

This post is for Denver voters. Everyone else move on. What follows is mostly quoted from the linked articles. Election time! Ballots are in the mail.

Imperviousness encroaching on an older neighborhood, 2023

Park Hill Golf Course is the last large (155 acre) open space in Denver, sits along Colorado Blvd. between 35th and 40th Avenues. Yes, that land is on the ballot again, Referred Question 20. “Referred” means this question was initiated by Denver’s administration, Mayor’s office, City Council, and probably Westside Investment et al. Wording on the ballot:

“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?”

Note the language about it having to be a golf course. No one wants another golf course. Opponents say that is not so, that “open space” is also in the existing easement and the site can easily become a park.

Note the language about affordable housing and park space. How often have developers fulfilled their commitments to build affordable housing? Also, we have a slew of vacant housing right now, at least some of which should be made affordable. No mention of the needed grocery store. The plan says space will be available should someone want to build one.


History: In July 2019, Loretto Heights developer Westside Investment Partners purchased the land from Clayton, which was having financial troubles.

By fall, 2019, former Mayor Wellington Webb and other activists rallied under the name Save Open Space Denver to save the Park Hill Golf Course site from development, arguing the conservation easement should be enough to stop Westside’s plans.

In November 2021, open space advocates floated Initiative 301, a measure requiring a citywide vote to lift a city-owned conservation easement. The developers responded with a competing measure, Initiative 302, to block 301.

“Can developers now ignore conservation easements across the state, buy land at a bargain rate because it is protected from development, and then lobby to get the easements lifted by local elected officials? It’s a dangerous precedent.” —Denver Post editorial, October 18, 2021

Voters passed 301 by a 2-to-1 margin and rejected 302. That was less than two years ago. Now we have to vote on that same issue again.

In January 2022, Community Planning and Development axed Save Open Space and its representative, current mayoral candidate Lisa Calderón from the committee working on the future of the golf course site.

“Given Save Open Space’s stated disagreement with the prevailing vision and the visioning process to this point, we believe that further participation by Save Open Space as part of the committee would only result in further discord within the community and would not be a valuable use of the committee’s or your organization’s time,” Parks and Recreation head Happy Haynes and Community Planning and Development head Laura Aldrete explained in a note to SOS.

Make of that what you will, depending on your “prevailing vision.” The above timeline excerpts are from this more extensive article:


from The Denver Post, 2019, and it must be worse now, link below:

Excluding the undeveloped area around the airport, nearly half the land in Denver’s city limits is now paved or built over — up from less than 20 percent in the mid-1970s, a Denver Post analysis of city and federal data found. And that figure could approach 70 percent by 2040.

Green space in Denver is disappearing faster than in most other cities, with paved-over cover increasing from 19 percent of the city in 1974 to 48 percent in 2018 (not including Denver International Airport), federal and city data show. Up to 69 percent of the city is expected to be paved or covered by 2040. Only New York and a few mega cities exceed that level of what planners call “imperviousness.”

Denver ranks nearly last among major U.S. cities, including New York, in park space as a percentage of total area. It also ranks nearly last in park acres per resident.


There are like a thousand running for mayor and a hundred for council member at-large (I exaggerate) and most of the council district races are also competitive. I heard several at-large candidates speak at a recent neighborhood meeting. I’m backing two who oppose Referred Question 20: Penfield Tate and Sarah Parady. I’ll probably decide my mayoral choice the same way. That, and if they support a “housing first” position for the homeless.

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14 Responses to One More Time: Park Hill Golf Course

  1. Thanks for this. You’ve helped me with 20 and the at-large race.

  2. normandosky says:

    It would be absolute foolishness to count on the altruism of a developer, or the interests of a politician. Unfortunately, we’ve seen what has become of Denver over the decades of the moneyed elite convincing the populace that “growth” is in the best interests of the city. In the best interests of their pockets is more likely. What was once a beautiful, clean city has become a concrete Metropolis where those who actually make things run — teachers, medicos, safety workers, etc. — can no longer afford to live. Anything backed by the likes of Robert Smith and his ilk will lead to one thing only, the degradation of life in Denver for the sake of the wealthy. Those who rode into office on the backs of voters made to believe that there would be a place in the city for the poor, the homeless, those who work two jobs to keep their families housed and fed, their children in clothes, will never feel shame, will never “do the right thing” as they continue to spout the rhetoric of community and fairness while walking the path of rationalized self-interest.

  3. Catherine Calder says:

    Thank you for your endorsements of NO on 2O and your at-large recommendations. I align with all of it! (Now if only I could persuade you away from a certain D9 candidate who has received a big chunk of money from the developers and spoke on their behalf at a drag show event over the weekend.)

  4. Ren says:

    I played that course five hundred times as a kid. One day my partner Harley insisted that we get out of the rain and lightning. We were soaked when we got to the clubhouse. The morning coffee was so acrid we that we sugared it up. We were sipping when there was a bright flash. The thunder rattled every window and glass and caused everyone to shout the things people say during moments of terror A couple of minutes later, an old (we were young) a duffer came crawling through the clubhouse door and moaned that his partner had been struck. The rain had let up and Harley and I rushed out. A big cottonwood tree near the 18th green had been cleaved like a turnip, its exposed pulp still steaming in the humidity. Partly covered by the hefty branch was the golfer, face and upper torso the color of a supermarket eggplant. Harley fetched the victim’s wallet thinking, I guess, to make a phone call. Meantime, a priest from the nearby church arrived ribboned in his last rite vestments. “Father,” Harley said, to flashing the departed’s id, “the guy doesn’t need that. He’s a jew.” I’m going to have to call Harley later to rekindle the memory of how the afterlife face-off played out. Steel golf cleats were the order of the day and I still remember the blue and purple steel gleaming on the bottoms of those shoes.

  5. sylvia says:

    Thank you Pat!

  6. Deb R. says:

    Thanks for this, Pat! We are putting up signs all over Denver because only those in Park Hill seem to get what is going down here. What a snow job by Westside!

    Case in point: the city traded a former electrical transit station in the middle of the block on Fairfax (between 28th and 29th) to a developer who promised to insert a pocket park into their development on the other side of the street. Once the development was done (also supposedly “affordable” but not), the developer built the park and then charged the city for a large portion of it saying it cost more than they budgeted.

    The deep pockets at Westside are big contributors to city campaigns that support them. They are heavily marketing this ballot measure throughout the city as providing “affordable housing” for Denver and making the “4th largest park in the city,” but “affordable” is a sliding term which does not mean low income. The “park” part of the Park Hill Golf Course plan is scheduled to be at the back of the development and is the very last thing to be finished in the developers’ timeline, some 4 years out. There are tons of vacant lots between MLK and I-70 in North Park Hill that can be developed for housing. Traffic on Colorado Blvd. near I-70 is already a nightmare and this development will make it worse.

    We need the green!

    Sorry you got me going…..

    • dubrava says:

      Excellent added fuel for the fire, Deb. Some things I didn’t know and I was already mad.

    • Gregg Painter says:

      Yes! Bicycling around that neighborhood I see a whole bunch of places where they could build affordable housing AND A GROCERY STORE which is the thing I hear liberals grousing about when they talk about the things they could do with the golf course. Also, if the city wants to throw money around, they could exercise eminent domain for certain decrepit properties to increase the land they have to build housing/businesses to serve the people.

  7. Stapleton, Lowry: remember all those promises for low-income housing? I bicycle around those places all the time and all I see is pricey real estate.

    The late Burt Bacharach:

    “Oh, promises
    Their kind of promises
    Can just destroy a life”

    Trusting the promises of politicians and developers…who does that anymore?

    Keep that green space green.

    • dubrava says:

      Gregg, absolutely. How many examples do we need of developers failing to do what they promised before we stop believing them? See Deb R’s example below.

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