park hill golf course 3 (copy)

The land of the former Park Hill Golf Course in Denver, Colo. 

Editors note: Penfield Tate III is considering running for an at-large Denver City Council seat or mayor in 2023. An online Denver Gazette story Thursday contained inaccurate information about his candidacy status.

A group called YES for Parks and Open Space is calling for the former Park Hill Golf Course to be redeveloped into 100% parkland.

This comes after developers Westside Investment Partners Inc. submitted preliminary plans last week that call for redeveloping the 155-acre plot into a park, affordable housing and retail space that would likely include a grocery store.

That plan would include a 100-acre land donation to Denver to create the city’s fourth-largest park. Westside Investment bought the plot in 2019.

A majority of area residents want mixed-use development with a park, according to a survey conducted by Denver's Community Planning and Development.

YES, which bills itself as a “grassroots coalition,” hired landscape architect Edward Shalkey to design a vision for the land that’s 100% parkland.

“As the City and the developer continue with their sham process to fleece citizens into believing that mixed use development is the only option, we went to work, taking the comments from the City’s own survey to provide people with a possible vision for that land,” spokesman Penfield Tate III said in a news release. “We’ve seen what (Community Planning and Development) has put out and called a ‘prevailing vision’ — it’s a ‘prevailing development vision’ and people should not be fooled by it. They voted against it. Soundly.”

He was referencing city voters passing Measure 301 in November, which requires a “citywide vote to develop property with a city-owned conservation easement” like Park Hill.

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Tate, a former state legislator, was involved with a group called Save Open Space Denver that worked to pass the initiative. He is considering running for an at-large Denver City Council seat or mayor in 2023.

In a previous interview, Community Planning and Development spokeswoman Laura Swartz said the planning process has been going on for a year-and-a-half. The process included a survey of area residents, as well as a citywide survey, and a steering committee that met monthly “that was made up of volunteer community members.”

The “prevailing vision” document that was produced by that process was released in December. Details of how city officials created the vision plan can be viewed at denvergov.org.

The priorities in that document include:

  • Creating a large park and community gathering places.
  • Standing up an oversight committee to guide future planning and development.
  • Preserving and expanding the tree canopy to combat urban heat island effects in the area.
  • Adding youth and recreational sports opportunities.
  • Including a variety of affordable (income-restricted) housing options, including for-sale units.
  • Addressing food insecurity by including space for grocery and fresh food choices.
  • Creating space for local businesses and businesses owned by people of color.
  • Employing strategies to mitigate involuntary displacement.

YES members point out that “25 acres of that green space is a storm water detention pond that is not safe for public use, and the other 75 acres are not guaranteed to be contiguous park space,” according to the release.

They argued that the city surveys were flawed because they only included two choices: keeping a golf course or having a mixed-used development.

Next steps include an Aug. 4 public meeting by Westside at the clubhouse to hear community feedback. City staff is working on a draft area plan, which must be approved by City Council. After the draft area plan and final development plans are submitted, it will go to voters — possibly in 2023.