Denver Church Gets Attacked for Supporting Mixed-Use Redevelopment of Golf Course

Golf Course

St. Thomas Episcopal Church's advocacy for a mixed-use renovation of the 155-acre Park Hill Golf Course has made the Episcopal church the target of verbal insults from opponents who favor converting the entire property into parkland.

The church is located on South Park Hill. It is a member of a coalition of community organizations that have actively supported Northeast Park Hill residents in their negotiations with the developer. 

Redevelopment of Golf Course

According to the Episcopal News Service, opponents and supporters in the adjacent Northeast Park Hill neighborhood, who view the development as a potential boon for housing, services, and economic growth in the underserved area, have engaged in open conflict. The Rev. Terri Hobart, the rector of St. Thomas, stated that the project is unique because the land is privately owned. Still, the city of Denver has placed an easement on it saying that it must remain a golf course in perpetuity. The initiative for the April 4 election asks voters whether the city should lift the easement to allow for the proposed redevelopment.

St. Thomas unequivocally answers "yes" to the question. Hobart was among the community coalition leaders that signed the Park Hill Community Benefits Agreement on behalf of her congregation. The deal with the developer matches the residents' concerns, which include affordable housing units, preferences for minority-owned companies, protections against gentrification, and room for a grocery store in a food desert area of the city.

In January 2023, The Denver Gazette reported that as the Denver City Council approved four motions, which accounted for hours of public comment, the decision regarding the future of the Park Hill Golf Course is now in the hands of the voters in Denver. Following the provisions of Ordinance 301, the question of the lot of the golf course was put to the vote before "eligible voters of the City and County of Denver" after the final vote was taken. It also approved the construction of five new metropolitan districts to fund the projects and the development plan. However, there was no public hearing for this bill.

The final vote occurred after more than 150 speakers had made their case. Ninety-five people signed up to speak on the rezoning plan, with two-thirds in favor. Also, the city received 153 documents opposing one of the three laws; however, many of those documents just stated "Park Hill" without specifying which measure they opposed. There were 128 supporting materials.

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Thomas Episcopal Church

The St. Thomas Episcopal Church's various communities strive to demonstrate God's love worldwide. They participate in the life of the Park Hill area as a community church. The community believes that God loves every person. People are welcome at St. Thomas, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social standing, or political opinions, wherever they are on their spiritual path. 

As mentioned, 1908 saw the founding of St.Thomas Episcopal Church in Denver's Park Hill area. This historic chapel has profound ties to the civil rights movement. Social justice is fundamental to the church community's identity. They also adore their music and celebrate variety by including traditional hymns, anthems with African American spirituals, gospel songs, and modern music.

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