City Council Adopts Park Hill Golf Course Area Plan
Denver City Council members voted 10-3 on Monday night to adopt the Park Hill Golf Course Small Area Plan proposed by the Departments of Community Planning and Development and Denver Parks and Recreation. Denver voters in a potential future citywide election will now have reliable city guidance for what would happen with the Park Hill Golf Course land, should they vote in favor of removing a conservation easement that restricts the land’s current use to a golf course.
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 of the adopted small area plan 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
Following the adoption of the small area plan, the city intends to solidify the commitments listed below in a legally binding agreement with the developer, subject to approval by City Council and expected to be considered at Council’s LUTI committee next week. These requirements would “run with the land,” meaning they would continue to apply even if the property ownership changes:
- Setting aside 100 of the 155 acres of the site for parks, open space and trails
- 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
- Funding 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.
“This plan takes a collaborative, inclusive, value-creating approach to reimagining this site, to advance equity and meet a host of community needs,” said District 8 Councilman, Christopher J. Herndon.
“I am gratified to see that the community prioritized parks and open space as an integral part of the plan,” said Happy Haynes, executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation. “Denver Parks and Recreation looks forward to designing a park with features and amenities that reflect the desires of the community and enrich the quality of life for residents.”
“The Park Hill Golf Course small area plan speaks to urban growth in a thoughtful, inclusive, and sustainable way,” said Laura E. Aldrete, executive director of Community Planning and Development. “The vision is to transform this space into a new park in a community that has called for one, while also planning for the future by including affordable housing, much-needed services like a grocery store, and by bringing people closer to the existing 40th & Colorado light-rail station and future bus rapid transit along Colorado Blvd.”
Denver City Council is expected to consider the development agreement along with a rezoning to update the property’s zoning to align with the land uses described by the adopted area plan. City Council will also consider whether to refer a question to the April 2023 ballot on whether to lift the conservation easement. 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 contemplated by the adopted small area plan could be implemented.
The draft development agreement is expected to be publicly available next week in conjunction with its consideration at City Council’s Land Use, Transportation, and Infrastructure committee on Tuesday, December 13.