AURORA, Colo. -- It was back in 1918 when Aurora's Fitzsimons Golf Course opened: An all-sand course with only nine holes was on army property. For nearly 100 years the course evolved, expanding to 18 holes and becoming a popular place to play for locals, finally becoming a public course in 1998.
Fitzsimons was a favorite of former President Dwight Eisenhower. There is even a tree located in the middle of the sixth fairway that is named after him with a wood plaque that reads “Ike’s Tree.”
But after 99 years of history, the course will close for good on Sunday. Redevelopment will take its place.
"There was a lot of nostalgia here," said Rusty Rome, who has been golfing at Fitzsimons for 38 years. "I don't want to see it go."
The Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority acquired the property from the Army 20 years ago. There was always a plan to replace the course with a bio tech park.
"When technology is developed here we want to start companies which create high-paying jobs," said Steve VanNurden, President and CEO of the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority. "We can do this right here on campus which is pretty unique in this country."
Five-thousand physicians work at Fitzsimons and there is a $450 million research budget to work with.
"From diagnostics to drug development, we have the ability to treat patients in a different way in the future," said VanNurden.
With the bio tech park comes apartments and a potential hotel which would also bring retail to the area.
"We can create a destination of a live, work and play model," said VanNurden.
The first bio tech building is set to be complete in the middle of 2019.