DENVER — The Denver City Council on Tuesday decided that voters should have the final say regarding the redevelopment of the Park Hill Golf Course.
“We need affordable housing. We need more parkland,” Denver City Councilman Paul Kashmann said.
The city council voted 11-2 in favor of putting an ordinance about what to do with the land up to voters, who will have the final say on lifting the conservation easement to allow for development of the 155 acres during a special election on April 4.
Kashmann voted no on the golf course redevelopment measure.
“When you look at climate issues right now, which is important, and you know, the idea for me, as much as I value the creation of affordable housing, I just don't want to set the precedent that we're building affordable housing on open space,” Kashmann said.
Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca also voted no on developing the golf course and said the ballot language is confusing.
“I think the order of operations is wrong here. We have not discussed the proper way to lift a conservation easement. I believe that is through the courts. We have a vote that is being proposed for the people of Denver. And the package last night included not only the ballot language, but the metro districts to finance the project, the rezoning and the development agreement. I think putting all of that together is very confusing for people,” CdeBaca said. “We paid for the conservation easement to keep this open green space. And it's more important now than it ever has been because half of this green space is in the most polluted zip code in America.”
CdeBaca said she supports affordable housing but worries about developers following through with those promises.
“It's the exact same narrative that's been used for every other development across our city that has displaced communities of color. You can literally go back to the city council meeting where the Urban Renewal Plan and the Business Improvement District were approved for Welton Street, for Five Points, and it's the exact same narrative. It's the exact same promises. It's the exact same opportunities,” she said.
Norman Harris, managing partner of the Holleran Group, a co-developer of the Park Hill Golf Course, said once developed, the area will be more equitable.
“We are very excited about the benefits that we're bringing forward — 25% affordability in terms of homes. We will have over 600 (homes) for sale and for rent that will be on this site,” Harris said. “The ability to bring forward much needed affordable housing, our city's fourth largest regional park, and a ton of other community benefits is huge… we believe we are going to start building generational wealth. It's been a value we’ve heard from the community and understand it’s a primary needs, and that starts with affordable housing.”
Community member Helen Bradshaw, who’s lived in Denver for 50 years, said the developer's plan isn’t perfect, but it’s worth a try.
“It's an opportunity for us to actually provide more for the community that we've never seen,” Bradshaw said. “I can't say with good conscious that I would want green space while someone was sleeping on the snow…everything's a start.”
Voters will have a chance to decide the future of the space during a special election on April 4.