Polly B. Jessen

Polly Jessen’s practice focuses on the range of contaminated property redevelopment issues, including environmental due diligence, negotiating purchase and sale agreements, cleanup plans, development agreements and environmental insurance policies, severed mineral interests, and professional service and construction contracting.  Polly advises and represents clients before regulatory agencies regarding remedy selection, administrative orders, cleanup standards, institutional controls, redevelopment, and community relations activities under voluntary cleanup agreements and regulatory orders.  She has drafted ordinances governing solid waste management and development standards for areas of statewide interest.  Polly also has drafted comments to regulatory agencies regarding wetlands permits and endangered species issues and has prepared briefs and other pleadings in environmental and natural resource litigation and mediation proceedings.

Polly’s clients include municipalities and quasi-governmental entities, as well as private developers, lenders, and other private entities involved in complex remediation and redevelopment projects.  She speaks and publishes frequently on contaminated property redevelopment issues and environmental and land use issues associated with severed mineral interests.

Representative Experience

PuebloPlex, Pueblo, Colorado
Representing the local redevelopment authority (LRA) in negotiating cleanup requirements and other environmental terms and conditions associated with the transfer of approximately 16,000 acres of property within the former U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot; advising the LRA with regard to environmental due diligence and environmental risk management during acquisition and redevelopment, including regulatory compliance and cleanup, environmental insurance, institutional controls, cost recovery opportunities, environmental disclosure, remediation funding sources, NEPA, and other redevelopment-related issues

National Western Center Redevelopment, Denver, Colorado
Representing the City and County of Denver, Colorado, in developing and negotiating the governance structure and framework agreements for expanding and redeveloping the current home of the National Western Stock Show into a new two-hundred seventy acre state-of-the-art, multi-purpose campus to house the National Western Stock Show; serve as a hub for year-round creative, P-20 experiential educational, research and commercial activity that promotes, supports, and helps to preserve the western lifestyle while highlighting innovation and global issues of health, food systems, water, and the environment; and provide an attractive environment for additional agricultural business and science investments that position the State as an agricultural innovations cluster leader

Central I-70 Project, Denver, Colorado
Advised the Colorado Department of Transportation in structuring of a customized hazardous materials and environmental risk management regime (including specific provisions governing groundwater conditions)

Stapleton Airport Redevelopment, Denver, Colorado
Representing the master developer of the former Stapleton International Airport property; drafted and negotiated core agreements related to the project, including the structure and implementation of the real estate purchase, the $650 million, publicly-financed infrastructure agreements, environmental risk mitigation and insurance, the development agreement, and other key documents and negotiations related to the project; drafted and negotiated environmental disclosures to be provided to prospective homebuyers and tenants, and assisted the client in several areas related to construction at the project site, including developing construction materials management plans, drafting construction contracts, negotiating the form of easements and other access agreements, and addressing land use and other entitlement issues

Redevelopment of the Former Gates Rubber Company Site, Denver, Colorado
Representing master developer in environmental due diligence, negotiation of purchase and sale agreement, environmental insurance coverage, voluntary cleanup plans, professional service and construction contracting, and infrastructure funding agreements

Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent, Park City, Utah
Representing potentially responsible party in negotiation and implementation of a settlement agreement and order on consent for engineering evaluation/cost analysis and removal action related to discharges from drainage infrastructure and cleanup and development related matters associated with historical mining operations and ongoing related issues

Environmental Due Diligence
Advising real estate developers, lenders, and their legal counsel in conducting environmental due diligence and environmental risk management in real estate and various asset purchase transactions

Surface Use Agreements for Surface and Mineral Interest Owners, Colorado
Representing surface developers and mineral interest owners in negotiation of surface use agreements and associated land use proceedings under the Colorado Surface Development Notification Act

Remediation and Resale of Former Industrial Dry Cleaning Site, Seattle, Washington
Representing national brownfields developer in negotiating agreements for management of historical insurance policy claims, cleanup funding and implementation, purchase and resale of a contaminated industrial property near Lake Union

Federal Center Station Neighborhood, Lakewood, Colorado
Represented the City of Lakewood in negotiation of agreement with the General Services Administration (GSA) for property acquisition, including environmental risk management, cleanup, and construction issues

Lender Environmental Due Diligence for Acquisition and Construction Loan, Former ASARCO Smelter Site
Represented lender in reviewing environmental compliance and crafting terms suitable to acquisition and construction loan

Lowry Range
Represented the redeveloper of a site owned by the Colorado State Land Board encompassing a portion of the former Lowry Range and the former Lowry Training Annex in negotiating a remediation agreement with the Colorado State Land Board and a consent order with the Colorado Department of Public Health for management of unexploded ordnance and other environmental issues associated with redevelopment of the property

Redevelopment of Former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Denver, Colorado
Represented master developer of biomedical science park in environmental due diligence for former facility transferred under federal BRAC program; scope of representation included negotiation of environmental provisions of acquisition and environmental cost sharing agreements, voluntary cleanup plan approval and implementation, negotiation of an environmental insurance policy, National Contingency Plan compliance, and contribution claim demands to reimburse costs of cleanup

Acquisition of Former Coal Burning Power Plant, Chicago, Illinois
Represented national brownfields developer in negotiating agreement for purchase of decommissioned coal burning power plant and associated environmental insurance policy

Professional and Civic Activities / Awards

  • 5280's Top Lawyer for Environmental Law (2018–2019)
  • American College of Environmental Lawyers
  • Best Lawyers® Summer Business Edition for Construction Law (2018)
  • Best Lawyers in America® for Construction Law (2017–2019)
  • Chambers USA, Natural Resources & Environment – Band 3 (2016–2017)
  • 20th Judicial District Nominating Commission (2009–2014)
  • Board of Directors, Center for ReSource Conservation (2009–2014)
  • Downtown Denver Partnership Annual Awards Jury (2009)
  • Executive Committee Member and Policy and Legislative Subcommittee Co-Chair, Colorado Chapter of the National Brownfield Association (2006–2009)
  • Businesses Unified for Denver Public Schools Committee (2005–2008)
  • Emerging Business Leaders Program, Downtown Denver Partnership (2004)
  • Committee for the Urban Farm at Stapleton, fundraising event (January 2004)
  • Smart Growth Task Force convened by the Wirth Chair in Environmental and Community Development Policy, Institute for Policy Research & Implementation, Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado at Denver (2002)

News & Publications


University of Denver Daniels College of Business
Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management
Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Conference
Colorado Bar Association Real Estate Spring Update
Electric Utility Consultants, Inc.: Wind Project Development & Acquisition Due Diligence
33rd Annual Colorado Bar Association Real Estate Symposium
Webcast Presenter
Colorado Bar Association Real Estate Spring Update
Frac Law: From Land Contract Negotiations to Environmental Disputes
National Business Institute
Negotiating Oil and Gas Agreements in Colorado
National Business Institute
29th Annual AAAE Basics of Airport Law Workshop and 2013 Legal Update
Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Conference
30th Annual Colorado Bar Association Real Estate Symposium
28th Annual AAAE Basics of Airport Law Workshop and 2012 Legal Update
6th Annual CLE Conservation Easements Conference
Hydraulic Fracturing: Regulatory Perspectives and Achieving More ROI
Electric Utility Consultants, Inc. Conference
Colorado Brownfields Association
Brownfield Legislation: Where Is It Going and How Will It Affect You?
Roundtable Participant
National Brownfields Association Conference
Hampton Roads Association for Commercial Real Estate Luncheon
Fall Joint CLE Meeting
24th Annual Colorado Bar Association Real Estate Symposium
National Brownfields Association Conference
The Challenges of Airfield Conversions: Lessons Learned
NAID, An Association of Defense Communities, Annual Conference


Colorado Real Estate Journal
The Colorado Real Estate Journal
July/August 2011
Co-Authored with Ian K. London
The Colorado Lawyer
The Colorado Real Estate Journal
March–April 2005


Law Week Colorado and The Denver Post
Fall 2014
Brownfield News

Education and Clerkships

J.D., Columbia University School of Law, 1994
Judicial Law Clerk, former Chief Justice Mary J. Mullarkey, Colorado Supreme Court, 1994–1995
A.B., cum laude, Princeton University, 1987

Bar Admissions



Reference Guide: Entities that Construct, Fund and Operate Selected Public Facilities and Projects in the Denver Metropolitan Area