Denver’s $20M deal to buy Park Hill Golf Course on hold

Park Hill Golf Club seen from the air. (BusinessDen file photo)

A deal announced earlier this fall for Denver to buy the Park Hill Golf Course for roughly $20 million has been suspended.

Clayton Early Learning CEO Charlotte Brantley, who manages the George W. Clayton Trust that owns the 155-acre golf course, said last week that golf course operator Arcis Golf previously indicated it was unlikely to renew its lease. Clayton negotiated to sell the course to the city in a deal announced in September.

But Dallas-based Arcis has the right of first refusal on any deal and the option for two five-year renewals in its lease, and hasn’t made its final decision, putting the deal in jeopardy.

Arcis has a 20-year lease for $700,000 per year to run the course that expires at the end of 2018. The lease says Arcis has until July 1 to decide on renewals, Brantley said.

It’s unclear whether Arcis was shown the city’s $20 million bid and allowed to outbid that offer, which would be required by the lease.

The Denver Post first reported that the deal was delayed.

Brantley said it was always a possibility that Arcis could renew its lease for Park Hill, but the nonprofit was surprised when the golf operator said it hadn’t decided. Brantley said Arcis loses money on the golf operation most years and she believed they wanted no part of future obligations at the course.

The city of Denver, meanwhile, still covets some of the land for flood protection.

“Denver will now move forward with an alternative approach in order to obtain the land it needs to construct the stormwater detention project it has planned for the northeast corner of the Park Hill Golf Course property,” said Nancy Kuhn, director of communications from the city’s department of public works, in an email.

The deal between the city and Clayton originally called for 20 to 25 acres to be used for storm water detention. The city was going to purchase 80 acres outright for $10 million, and lease-to-own the remaining 75 acres for $10.5 million over 30 years – $300,000 a year.

Brantley said she was unsure how Arcis would continue to operate the golf course if the city was using more than half of it for stormwater construction. She said the operator has worked with the nonprofit and the city before on construction projects. Previously, the nonprofit sold a small sliver of the course to RTD to help with transit construction.

“We haven’t even had those conversations yet,” she said. “We know it’s possible to move through that kind of a thing.”

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