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

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Big photos below.
The Holly keeps rising from the ashes. Yesterday, the new Nancy P. Anschutz Center, home of the Jack A. Vickers Boys & Girls Club, celebrated a grand opening attended by notables such as Mayor Michael Hancock, Phil and Nancy Anschutz, John and Paige Elway, and Jack A. Vickers; see photos below. Many police officers were also on hand -- but then, there had been a gang-related shooting in the parking lot ten days before. And just hours before the dedication, one of the biggest proponents of the project, Terrance Roberts, was formally charged with attempted murder.

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."

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Free Lunch Photography
Michael Hancock grips and grins with John Elway.
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.

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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.

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Free Lunch Photography
Some of the kids who'll benefit from the new Boys & Girls Club.
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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