SOCUE has filed a judicial foreclosure complaint against Westside Investment Partners to recover over $320,000, which the nonprofit claims is owed for renovations. This move is described as a tactical maneuver to compel developers to release funds that a Denver District Court ruled were unjustly withheld from SOCUE in September. The court is now considering a bond filed by West Side Investment Partners to repay the nonprofit. Read Colorado Newsline’s article on the matter below.

Nonprofit spent thousands on work at old Denver golf course. Now it’s trying to claw back money.

by Robert Davis, Republished from Colorado Newsline
January 9, 2024

The legal battle between a local nonprofit and the real estate investment company leading the Park Hill Golf Course redevelopment efforts has reached new heights at a time when the golf course’s future is still up in the air. 

Sisters of Color United for Education, a community health nonprofit, recently filed a judicial foreclosure complaint against West Side Investment Partners in an effort to recoup more than $320,000 the nonprofit’s lawyers say it is owed for renovation work performed at the golf course’s old clubhouse. 

Lawyers for the nonprofit told Newsline that the motion was a tactical move to force the developers to release funds that a Denver District Court ruled in September were unjustly withheld from the nonprofit. West Side initially appealed the ruling, which prevented the funds from being released, and the court is now contemplating a subsequent superseding bond filed by the firm to repay the nonprofit, the lawyers said.

The golf course property and its fate in recent years has been the source of intense interest. The golf course ceased operations in 2018, and a major mixed-used redevelopment proposal at the site failed at the ballot box last year.

Adrienna Corrales-Lujan, the executive director for Sisters of Color United for Education, described the experience as an example of “predatory development” and how communities of color are engaged in conversations around the built environment.  

“It’s not that much money to a big company (like West Side) in the grand scheme of things,” Corrales-Lujan said about the amount SOCUE is trying to recover. “But it matters a lot for an organization like ours. We’re just trying to find our new home.”

Newsline reached out to representatives for Westside Investment Partners for comment but did not receive a reply by the time of publication. 

The rift between SOCUE and Westside Investment Partners began around January 2021, when the nonprofit was engaged by a third-party brokerage called Holleran Property Management, which was working on behalf of the developer. SOCUE agreed to pay for renovations at the golf course’s clubhouse in lieu of paying rent for three years to build a community wellness center. 

It’s not that much money to a big company (like Westside) in the grand scheme of things … But it matters a lot for an organization like ours.

– Adrienna Corrales-Lujan, of Sisters of Color United for Education

But renovating the old clubhouse proved to be more expensive than any of the parties anticipated. There were issues with the flooring, and the plumbing system was falling apart, Tyrone Hubbard, a former broker for Holleran Property Management, said during his deposition in January 2023. Westside had no plans to finance the renovations and expected SOCUE or other tenants to foot the bill, Hubbard said. 

In all, SOCUE paid more than $200,000 to renovate the space. But its relationship with West Side began to deteriorate following a community meeting, where Corrales-Lujan told attendees that the nonprofit planned to “hold the development accountable to the community,” Hubbard testified. Afterward, Hubbard said Westside Investment Partners felt the nonprofit was not on their side and attempted to modify the lease agreement to include a complex equation that would determine how often SOCUE could use the space. But the agreement was never officially amended to include the new terms, the Denver District Court found. 

SOCUE found itself in a difficult situation while all of this was going on, Corrales-Lujan said. The organization moved out of its office at 8th Avenue and Santa Fe Drive because it expected to move into the new clubhouse. At the same time, it was negotiating with Westside for space at the Loretto Heights redevelopment in Denver. Neither option worked out in the end, and that has left SOCUE scrambling to find space so it can relaunch important programs, like its HIV and STI screening services, Corrales-Lujan said. 

Corrales-Lujan said she thinks Westside Investment Partners was looking for a community organization that would be more “performative,” or one that would tell the community what they wanted to hear and then “blindly back the firm’s initiatives.”

The legal battle between SOCUE and Westside Investment Partners is happening at a time when the golf course’s future is still uncertain. Denver voters rejected Referred Question 20 in April 2023, which would have lifted a conservation easement on the property and allowed the developers to move forward with plans to build commercial properties and apartments. Westside Investment Partners purchased the property three years ago for $24 million. 

In September, Denver residents began urging the Department of Parks & Recreation to buy the golf course back from the developers as part of the agency’s five-year Legacy Parks Plan, Westword reported. It is unclear how the department’s leadership will respond to the idea because former City Council member Jolon Clark was confirmed as the new parks director on Jan. 2.

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

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