Community Forum Regarding the Future of the Park Hill Golf Course Land

The open space future of the Park Hill Golf Course (PHGC) land could soon be in jeopardy. The PHGC is located east of Colorado Boulevard between 35th and 40th Avenues.

In 1997 during the administration of Mayor Wellington Webb, the City of Denver paid Clayton $2 million for a perpetual open space conservation easement on this 155-acre land parcel. Pursuant to a 2000 agency agreement with the City, Clayton holds title to the PHGC land “as agent of the City, to hold for the benefit of the citizens of the City and the general public.”

Clayton’s PHGC lease with the golf course operator could terminate on December 31, 2018 if the operator fails to exercise its 5-year renewal option by June 30, 2018. If the golf course lease terminates, Clayton is expected to ask the City to relinquish the open space protections of the 1997 conservation easement and the 2000 agency agreement and allow rezoning and development of all or a portion of the land.

Also–as part of the City’s Platte to Park Hill drainage project–the PHGC will close in early 2019 for the City to install a stormwater detention facility.  If the golf course operator exercises its 5-year renewal option, the golf course would re-open as a golf course in mid-2020.  But, if this option is not exercised, the public will face critical issues regarding possible relinquishment of the open space protections of the 1997 conservation easement and the 2000 agency agreement and possible rezoning and development of the land.

Please see the information below and check back from time to time.

The video of the forum will be posted here when it becomes available. As will others relating to this subject

Below are news coverage from the forum.


1. The Park Hill Golf Course (“PHGC”) land currently consists of approximately 155 acres that are zoned OS-B (Open Space-Recreation).

2. Prior to November 4, 1997, the George W. Clayton Trust (“Clayton”) owned the PHGC land in fee simple without any legal use restrictions other than City of Denver {“the City”) zoning restrictions.

3. Under the administration of Mayor Wellington Webb, the City purchased a conservation easement on November 4, 1997 from Clayton in exchange for $2 million paid to Clayton. Therefore, Clayton in perpetuity relinquished its right to develop the PHGC land in exchange for this $2 million payment. This conservation easement was recorded on November 25, 1997 at Reception No. 9700159758. Terms of the conservation easement agreement include the following:

a. The conservation easement is perpetual.
b. The stated purpose is “to vest a real property interest in Grantee [the City] that provides for the conservation of the Golf Course Land as open space and for the continued existence and operation of a regulation-length 18-hole daily fee public golf course in its present location….”
c. The permitted uses include that the GPHC land “shall be occupied, used, operated, and maintained as a regulation-length 18-hole daily fee public golf course with such related uses and activities as may be accessory or incidental to the operation of a golf course including but not limited to a driving range, golf learning center, club house, restaurant and bar, and such unrelated recreational uses such as ball fields, tennis courts, etc.”
d. The obligations and restrictions of the conservation easement “shall run with the land and be enforceable against any owner, lessee, mortgage holder, assignee, or other successor in interest of Grantor [Clayton].”
e. The conservation easement agreement can be amended by written agreement of both Clayton and the City and upon approval of City Council.

4. On October 13, 2000, Clayton and the City entered into an agency agreement. The purpose of the agency agreement was to have the PHGC land treated as City-owned land for tax purposes so that Clayton would be relieved of all liability for indirectly paying possessory interest taxes on the land pursuant to its golf course lease. The agency agreement was recorded on December 1, 2000 at Reception No. 2000175267.

5. The terms of the agency agreement include:

a. The term is through October 13, 2099.
b. Clayton holds title to the PHGC land “as agent of the City, to hold for the benefit of the citizens of the City and the general public….”
c. Upon termination of the agreement, Clayton is obligated to “grant, convey, assign, transfer, and deliver to the City…for the use and benefit of the citizens of the City and the general public, all right, title and interest of the Trust in and to the Golf Course, Golf Course Land, and all buildings, improvements, facilities, and other property, real and person, tangible and intangible….”
d. The 1997 conservation easement is released.
e. Clayton has the right to terminate the agreement upon 60 days’ notice, but upon such termination Clayton is obligated simultaneously to “grant a conservation easement to the City (in the form attached hereto as Exhibit I with such changes as may be mutually agreed upon by the City and the Trust) that will ensure that the Golf Course Land is used only for the Golf Course and related activities.” The referenced Exhibit I is a conservation easement with essentially the same terms as the 1997 conservation easement.
f. The purpose is “to ensure that the Golf Course is managed so that (i) the Golf Course Land is preserved as open space, (ii) the Golf Course continues to operate as a regulation-length 18-hole daily fee public course in its present location….”
g. The agreement can be amended by written agreement of both Clayton and the City and upon approval of City Council and the Probate Court.

6. Clayton currently leases the PHGC land to Evergreen Alliance Golf Limited, LP (“Evergreen”}, a Delaware limited partnership. The Lease is guaranteed by Premier Golf Management, Inc, a Delaware corporation. Evergreen is currently owned by Arcis Equity Partners, LLC (“Arcis”), a large “real estate and leisure equity sector” Texas private equity firm. Arcis’ current financial backer is SoftBank Group Corp. The lease terms include the following:

a. The term is through December 31, 2018.
b. The guaranteed lease payments are $700,000 per year.
c. Arcis has two 5-year options to renew the lease. The first option must be exercised no later than June 30, 2018.
d. Arcis has a right of first refusal to acquire the PHGC land during the term of the
lease. Any such sale by Clayton would be subject to the conservation easement restrictions set forth in the agency agreement.
e. Arcis has not yet disclosed its intentions regarding exercise of its 5-year lease renewal.

7. In early 2017, Clayton formed a committee identified as the Park Hill Golf Course Citizen’s Advisory Committee (“PCAC”) to address issues regarding the future of the PHGC land. The PCAC is comprised of community members selected by Clayton.

a. Clayton stated that it created the PCAC because it expected Arcis not to renew the golf lease.
b. The PCAC generally met monthly in 2017.
c. Clayton has stated that-if Arcis does not exercise its 5-year renewal option­ Clayton needs to receive a minimum of $24 million or $1 million per year from the PHGC land.
d. One of the activities at a PCAC meeting was a “Ball and Bucket Game” whose goal was to generate $24 million for Clayton from possible disposition of PHGC land. Participants were given various balls use representing different land uses with each ball having an assigned per-acre value. Open space and recreational uses were given low values and commercial and high density uses were given high values. Using these marked balls, participants were asked to create a rough land use plan that would add up to a value of at least $24 million.

8. Clayton has retained the consulting firm CRL Associates and the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP to advise and represent it in connection with matters related to the PHGC land. The lead Brownstein law firm lawyer on the matter is Bruce James who was Co-Chair of Mayor Hancock’s 2011and 2015 election campaigns. The Brownstein law firm website states that “Bruce James has played a leading role over the past 25 years in some of the most notable real estate projects in the Denver area and a number of significant projects throughout the country.”

9. In the fall of 2017, Clayton and the administration negotiated a complicated agreement regarding the PHGC land the terms of which included:

a. Clayton and the City would nullify the conservation easement.
b. The City would have the right to install an approximately 25-acre stormwater detention facility in the northeast corner of the PHGC land as part of its Platte to Park Hill project.
c. The City would purchase 50% of the PHGC land from Clayton for $10 million.
d. The City would lease 50% of the PHGC land from Clayton for 30 years at the rate of $350,000 per year.
e. Starting January 2, 2019 and continuing through December 31, 2022 the City would have the exclusive right to sell all or portions of the PHGC land at prices no lower than then “as-entitled” (i.e., then zoned) appraised market value.
f. Starting January 1, 2023 and continuing through December 31, 2037 Clayton would have the exclusive right to initiate and direct sales of the property leased by the City.
g. Clayton would receive the first $24 million (including the initial $10 million and the aggregate lease payments from the City) from all PHGC land transactions.
h. The City would pay Clayton up to $350,000 for its development planning costs.
i. After Clayton would have received an aggregate total of $24,350,000, net land PHGC land sale proceeds would be divided as follows:

i. first, to the City and Clayton in equal shares until payment in full of any
Clayton development planning costs in excess of $350,000;
ii. second, 100% to the City until it would be reimbursed the full amount of (1) its $10 million purchase price, (2) all lease payments made to Clayton, and
(3) any purchase option prices and accelerated payments paid by the City;
iii. third, with respect to sales prior to December 31, 2017, 50% to Clayton and 50% to the City; and
iv. finally, with respect to sales after December 31, 2017, 100% to the City.

j. Potentially all 155 acres of the PHGC land could be developed.

10. On October 3, 2017, the City administration presented the proposed agreement for approval to the City Council Finance and Governance Committee. After approval by this committee, the City administration on November 16, 2017 advised the City Council that it was withdrawing the proposed agreement from further City Council action.

11. On January 2, 2018, the City Council approved ordinances (1) authorizing the City to condemn a permanent stormwater detention easement and a construction easement for purposes of installing and operating a stormwater detention facility in the northeast portion of the PHGC land as part of its Platte to Park Hill project and (2) approving the related construction contract. The City advises that it expects to begin construction work in January 2019 and that the PHGC will be closed through at least mid-2020. The City states that it will restore the PHGC land to an 18-hole golf course if the Arcis exercises its 5-year option to renew its lease.

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Community Forum Regarding the Future of the Park Hill Golf Course Land — 5 Comments

    • As I have expressed to the owners of the land on which Park Hill golf course now sits, I am Extremely concerned about the (near) future of this property – especially the section that is furthest west – along Colorado between 40th & 35th avenues & east to about where the golf course ‘driving range’ begins, or about half way inbetween it’s western most & eastern most boundaries. I am a Close neighbor of this land & have been fortunate to have been able to enjoy it & it’s mountain range views for the past several years! It had recently been explained to me by a representative @ Clayton Early Learning that this land – or a majority of it – especially on the west side Would be preserved as free ‘open space’ or community use land that would Not be developed! This was her understanding as, at the time, as the city of Denver was still buying it for ‘limited development.’ There is Critically Less & Less free & open spaces – let alone those available for public recreation left Anywhere in Denver Every Day!! It has to Stop somewhere so that people don’t just ‘live in denver’, we can actually Enjoy Living while we’re living & paying taxes in denver! And the intent of this land long ago Was to be of ‘Benefit to the Community’ (i.e.Neighbors!!) & not Greedy, Bloodthirsty developers anxious to take one of the very last few beautiful, unspoiled, Undeveloped parcels of land in or near this city!! This land is a gem & is truely worth more than just the space it occupies or it’s location! And I was told (by rep @ Clayton) that Even the City of Denver has determined this property to be unfit to develop for building on –
      due to it’s need to head off flooding in & around this whole area! I do believe that the people who I have spoken with about this @ Clayton School really Do care not only about the monetary value of the land but it’ even more & longer lasting value to the Park Hill neighboorhoods, & the whole city as open space – useable & enjoyable to all! I am Anxious for any updates on this as soon as they are available!! 303-944-0115.

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