Park Hill Golf Course operator files suit, posing a new complication for discussions about the land’s future

Park Hill Golf Course operator files suit, posing a new complication for discussions about the land’s future
The company that operates the Park Hill Golf Course filed a lawsuit this week against the private trust that owns it, throwing another wrench into discussions about the future of the 155-acre property in northeast Denver.

Dallas-based operator Arcis Golf contends that a scuttled plan by the city of Denver to buy the land should have triggered Arcis’ contractual right of first refusal to purchase the course itself, according to its lawsuit, filed in Denver District Court. It targets Clayton Early Learning, an education nonprofit that manages the George W. Clayton Trust, which owns the land.

The city suspended its plan in November after Arcis notified Clayton that it was still considering whether to renew its lease, which expires at the end of 2018. Arcis has until July to do so, but Clayton has portrayed it as a money-losing venture for the operator.

Arcis’ lawsuit, filed Tuesday, suggests the company wants to purchase the land, and on the same terms that the city proposed.

In September, Clayton and Denver city officials had proposed a $20.5 million purchase that could have brought upward of $24 million to Clayton, depending on the site’s development potential. The proposal came amid a still-unresolved public conversation that has explored both the land’s open-space potential and its development prospects, with vocal advocates on each side.

“We do not understand the motives of Arcis Golf in filing the suit,” Charlotte Brantley, Clayton Early Learning’s president and CEO, wrote in an email Friday to members of a community advisory committee. “If they were interested in continuing to operate the golf course they could simply choose to renew the lease.”

Attempts to reach Arcis’ local attorney, Frank W. Visciano, were not immediately successful.

Arcis’ lawsuit accuses Clayton of breaching its lease after it asked to match the city’s offer last fall, and it seeks a court order allowing it to do so. It says that Arcis asked Clayton on Nov. 28 for a written notice outlining the city’s offer and to give Arcis 30 days to agree to those terms.

But Brantley said Friday that the organization disagrees with Arcis’ contention that the city’s proposal triggered the operator’s contractual right of refusal.

“We have long acknowledged that Arcis Golf has a right of refusal to purchase Park Hill Golf Course, which we intend to honor, but that right is dependent on Clayton receiving a binding written offer from a third party,” Brantley wrote in the email. She added that the city’s proposal “was never approved by City Council nor signed in any form by the city, and thus did not meet the requirements in the lease of a binding offer.”

Denver Public Works received council approval in January to negotiate easements on the golf course for a stormwater detention project.

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