Aug 3, 2021 - Real Estate
Cost, developer behind Denver's Fairfax Park stir new controversy
Construction crews work to finish Fairfax Park in Park Hill.
Construction crews work to finish Fairfax Park in Park Hill. Photo: John Frank/Axios

A controversial new park in a Denver neighborhood is over budget — and the extra taxpayer dollars are flowing to a construction company run by the brother of the city's deputy parks director.

Why it matters: The new details, first reported this week by the Greater Park Hill News, only exacerbate the frustration surrounding a development that won approval despite significant questions about gentrification and transparency.

Flashback: In 2018, the developer of Park Hill Commons — a mixed-use development with apartments, offices and retail businesses — gave the city land to build Fairfax Park as part of a land swap for a similar-sized lot across the street.

  • The developer, HM Capital, initially said it would pay for the pocket park but later negotiated a $650,000 contribution toward the cost.

What's new: The park's price tag is expected to reach $1.2 million — well over the $750,000 to $1 million first estimated by deputy parks director Scott Gilmore, who negotiated the land-swap deal.

  • The park's builder is Gilmore Construction, whose president is Scott Gilmore's brother. Other family members help run the company, the local newspaper reported.
  • Gilmore is married to city Councilperson Stacie Gilmore, who represents far Northeast Denver and supported the park deal.

What they're saying: Denver officials said the city transportation department awarded Gilmore Construction the contract after the firm submitted the lowest bid.

  • A parks department spokesperson said Scott Gilmore is not involved.
  • But Greater Park Hill News found that the project is being managed by one of Gilmore's subordinates.

"Scott Gilmore negotiated this deal and in the end, his brother and other family members are financially benefiting from the deal," said Tracey MacDermott, the chairperson for Greater Park Hill Community Inc., which publishes the newspaper. "It just stinks."

What to watch: The park between 28th and 29th Avenues on Fairfax Street will feature a small playground and water play area, as well as some green space. A ribbon cutting is set for Aug. 26.


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