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Suit: Park Hill Golf Course improperly taken by Denver for stormwater pond project

The course operator seeks a temporary restraining order to stop construction on the 88-year-old course. A new lawsuit is the latest signal that the course's future is uncertain.

DENVER — The operator of Denver’s Park Hill Golf Course has filed suit against the city, alleging that it improperly took control of four holes for a stormwater project that forced the closure of the links for at least this year, according to court documents obtained by 9Wants to Know.

The filing underscores the uncertain future for the 18-hole course that originally opened in 1931 – the course’s operators have a separate suit pending against the trust that owns the land.

Evergreen Alliance Golf Limited, doing business as Arcis Golf, contends in the suit filed in Denver District Court that the city “has no legal right” to exclude it from any portion of the course. The company, which is based in Dallas, is also seeking a temporary restraining order that would force the city’s bulldozers off the property.

“We plan to provide a very vigorous response,” said Ryan Luby, a spokesman for the Denver City Attorney’s Office.

He said after a preliminary review attorneys for the city disagreed with the assertions laid out in the suit.

Attorneys for Arcis did not immediately return messages left by 9NEWS.

The course, located at 4141 E. 35th Ave., has faced an uncertain future since the announcement in 2017 that the George W. Clayton Trust, which owns the property, had agreed to sell it to the city. At the time, Denver officials said they would be considering the future of the property, leading to speculation that it would be redeveloped as something other than a golf course.

That deal has never been finalized – Arcis exercised its right to continue leasing the property and operating it as a golf course.

Arcis’ suit against the Clayton Trust, which alleges the company should have the right of first refusal if the land is sold, is pending.

According to the new suit, Denver officials concluded in January 2018 that they needed to acquire a portion of the land to build a stormwater detention pond. An ordinance that was approved allowed the city to take up to 90 acres through eminent domain -- a process that could have provided compensation to Arcis.

But according to the suit, the city never began that process and instead entered into an agreement with the trust giving it possession of the property.   

“The city has known for over a year that it needed to acquire up to 90 acres of the Park Hill Golf Course, but it has never attempted to negotiate in good faith with Arcis for the acquisition or compensate Arcis for the property being taken or the damages to Arcis’s remaining interest,” the company alleged in the suit.

According to the suit, the city has maintained that it has “no obligation to secure Arcis’s permission to occupy the property Arcis leases, even though Arcis is the tenant in possession of the property to the exclusion of all others.”

The company alleged that earlier this year the city moved in, fencing off approximately 35 acres – which included parts of four holes – and began construction. The suit alleged that the construction “will immediately damage and render useless the irrigation system for the whole property, which makes it impossible for Arcis to maintain the area of the leased premises not taken by the city.”

Even though the course is closed, Arcvis is responsible for “substantial expenses” to maintain the property, the suit said.

The company is seeking “just compensation” as well as damages, costs and attorneys’ fees and “further relief this court deems just and proper,” according to the suit.

No court dates have been scheduled.

Contact 9NEWS reporter Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: kevin.vaughan@9news.com or 303-871-1862.

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