Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Photos: Big names dedicate Boys & Girls Club after Terrance Roberts charged with shooting

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Although none of the speeches at the dedication ceremony mentioned Roberts, there were certainly other reminders of this latest, rough chapter in the history of the Holly Shopping Center. "What I've learned about this neighborhood," said John Arigoni, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, "is that it's the most caring, the most resilient. It recognizes the past -- but has its eye on the future."

Hancock urged the crowd to "take ownership of this center and the surrounding streets.... Let's honor the Holly Shopping Center."

That shopping center at 34th Avenue and Holly Street, known to regulars as "The Holly," was once a bustling center of activities for the black community. But it had fallen on hard times and was largely empty when it was torched in May 2008 by a carload of Crips. Within minutes, the center was reduced to a smoldering wreck.

The burned-out, 2.6 acre site was purchased by the Urban Land Conservancy in 2009, with support from Denver's Office of Economic Development. Backed by the ULC, the Denver Foundation's Strengthening Neighborhoods Program and then-Denver City Councilman Michael Hancock, residents of Northeast Park Hill created a community-wide action group, the Holly Area Redevelopment Project, to come up with a new vision for the property. Roberts played an intrinsic role, organizing a clean-up of the site, creating a peace mural and also overseeing the installation of basketball courts there -- turning the area into a place where neighborhood kids could play together rather than fight. And he was on hand in February 2012 for the announcement that the Anschutz Foundation -- a longtime supporter of the Boys and Girls Club -- had pledged $5 million to help fund the construction of a club there. "If the Denver gang unit, with its sixty officers, can't solve the problem, if all the principals in the schools can't solve the problem, if all the parents and grandparents can't solve the problem, the Prodigal Son and the peace mural aren't going to solve the problem," he said at the time. "But it's a step in the healing process. It will bring more pride to the community. Now, all of a sudden, you're inspiring a whole lot more people to stake a claim to the community, to help out and really be proud of the community." Continue for more about the dedication of the new Boys and Girls Club and the charges against Terrance Roberts.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun