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, obtaining Brownfield grants and state tax credits, severed mineral interests, mine reclamation, 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, prepared briefs and other pleadings in environmental and natural resource litigation and mediation proceedings and served as an expert witness with respect to Brownfields transaction structures and “all appropriate inquiry.”

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, construction, and the environmental and land use issues associated with severed mineral interests.

Representative Experience

River Mile Development, Denver, Colorado
Represent the master developer in negotiating cleanup requirements and other environmental terms and conditions of agreements with the City and orders with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment associated with the redevelopment of the 58-acre property, which is currently home to the Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park and available cost recovery opportunities

Lincoln Park Superfund and Schwarzwalder Mine Sites, Cañon City and Golden, Colorado
Represented the current owner in due diligence and acquisition of these sites, and negotiation of the associated terms and conditions of the transfer of permits and orders governing closure and cleanup; currently represent the owner with respect to the ongoing cleanup and redevelopment of these sites

Lowry Redevelopment Authority, Denver, Colorado
Represent the Authority with respect to the closeout of agreements for the privatization of cleanup at the former Lowry Air Force Base

PuebloPlex, Pueblo, Colorado
Represent 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
Represented 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 270-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; currently represent Denver in administering its obligations under the framework agreements and in structuring and soliciting partners for development of future phases of the project

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)

The Boring Company's O’Hare Express System, Chicago, Illinois
Advised the City of Chicago in structuring hazardous materials and environmental risk management provisions of the P3 contract

Stapleton Airport Redevelopment, Denver, Colorado
Represent 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
Represented the 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; currently represent the master developer in completion of environmental cleanup, insurance administration, and property sales

Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent, Park City, Utah
Represented a Utah municipality in negotiation of a settlement agreement and order on consent for engineering evaluation/cost analysis and removal action related to discharges from drainage infrastructure constructed within historical mine tailings; currently represent the client in implementation of the agreement and order and various cleanup and development-related matters associated with historical mining operations in and around the City

Remediation and Resale of Former Industrial Dry Cleaning Site, Seattle, Washington
Represent 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, Denver, Colorado
Represented the redeveloper of a site owned by the Colorado State Land Board encompassing a portion of the former Lowry Bombing 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

Environmental Due Diligence and Real Property and Asset Purchase and Sale Transactions
Routinely advise and represent real estate developers, lenders, and their legal counsel in conducting environmental due diligence, regulatory compliance and cleanup, and environmental risk management in real estate and various asset purchase and sale transactions

Environmental Compliance and Cleanup
Routinely advise and represent clients with respect to regulatory requirements and in negotiating the terms of regulatory orders, agreements, and approvals for environmental cleanup

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

Construction Contracting
Routinely assist clients in negotiating, drafting, and administering construction contracts for a variety of residential, commercial and industrial facilities, and public infrastructure

Professional and Civic Activities / Awards

  • Best Lawyers® Environmental "Lawyer of the Year" award for Denver (2022, 2024)
  • Best Lawyers in America® for Environmental Law; Construction Law (2017–2024)
  • Board of Directors, PacWest Bancorp and Pacific Western Bank (2021-present)
  • American College of Environmental Lawyers (2019-present)
  • Chambers USA, Colorado, Environment – Band 2 (2016–Present)
  • Super Lawyers® Environmental Law (2020-2023)
  • Urban Exploration Steering Committee, Downtown Denver Partnership (2019-present)
  • 5280's Top Lawyer for Environmental Law (2018–2019)
  • Best Lawyers® Summer Business Edition for Construction Law (2018)

News & Publications


Brownfield Redevelopment: Addressing Environmental and Other Issues in Urban Redevelopment
Denver Land Use Law Conference
University of Denver Daniels College of Business
Franklin L. Burns School of Real Estate and Construction Management
November 2018, 2020
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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