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By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4) – The Park Hill Golf Course will close at the end of 2018 so the landlord of the property can use the space to generate more money and find a better use of the land for the community, Clayton Early Learning announced Thursday.

“I’m excited, I think [it’s great,]” said Lee Van Horn, a new resident that moved in across the street. “A great opportunity for the area around here.”

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(credit: CBS)

Park Hill Golf Course has occupied that land for decades but a deal reached this week will give the City and County of Denver the rights to the property in a $20.5 million purchase.

“We know the rounds played over there have gradually trended down over the years,” said Charlotte Brantley, president & CEO of Clayton Early Learning.

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Charlotte Brantley (credit: CBS)

The land located on 35th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard is part of the Clayton Trust. Brantley’s organization oversees the trust and serves as a non-profit helping low income children in the area prepare for kindergarten. She says they noticed a drop in interest for golf over the years and needed to consider a change that would not only bring in more revenue for Clayton but also keep the best interest of local children in mind.

“It’s been well managed by the tenant,” said Brantley of the golf course. “But it’s just golf isn’t everyone’s game.”

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(credit: CBS)

The property totals 155 acres.

Brantley says that will allow the space to be used in a variety of ways. But the City and County of Denver has already identified how it wants to use a portion of the land. It will pay for half at once for $10 million and the pay off the rest in a rent-to-own deal for $350,000 a year over three decades.

“We know that the City will utilize 20 to 25 acres for stormwater detention,” said Courtney Law, with the Department of Finance. “That area will likely stay open space.”

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Courtney Law (credit: CBS)

Brantley says input from the community shows a lot of interest in seeing open space or green space like a park. There are also suggestions for retail shops, restaurants, housing, and small businesses. She says one area identified by neighbors is the need for more healthy food options.

“This is an identified food desert,” she added. “There’s no close end grocery store here.”

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(credit: CBS)

Some neighbors worry about losing all of that land to development, taking away a huge open space that defines the neighborhood. But Brantley points out in its current state, the public as a whole cannot enjoy it.

“It does look like a park now, it’s not,” she said. “It’s a daily fee golf course, you can’t send your kids out there to play.”

Clayton plans to have more community meetings for the neighborhood to discuss how to use all of the land. The proposal to buy the land still has to be approved by the Denver City Council.

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(credit: CBS)

Neighbors new and old shared with CBS4 some of the ideas they would enjoy take shape on the property. Most agreed more dining options would be high on their list.

“I think what’s missing from the neighborhood are some restaurants,” said Van Horn. “If you want to go get some food besides fast food, you have to go a few miles from here.”

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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