Groundbreaking Community Collaboration Launches Construction of Northeast Denver Boys & Girls Club

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A host of community stakeholders including The Denver Foundation recently broke ground on a new Boys & Girls Club in Northeast Park Hill’s Holly Square.

Community stakeholders break ground on new Boys & Girls Club

This is a model of relation building, collaboration, and equal partnership.

A host of community stakeholders recently broke ground on the Jack A. Vickers Boys & Girls Club housed in what will be the Nancy P. Anschutz Center in Park Hill’s Holly Square. Behind a $5 million pledge from The Anschutz Foundation, the dream of these new projects took another step closer toward becoming a reality, and the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood took another step further away from the blighted, burned-down landmark that once dampened the hopes and blemished the pride of the community.

Construction is tentatively expected to take 9 to 11 months, with Denver’s Saunders construction serving as the General Contractor.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver worked with The Anschutz Foundation to obtain a grant and confirm the site for the Nancy P. Anschutz Center. A community consortium led by The Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods Program, the City of Denver, the Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), and the Urban Land Conservancy worked together to envision the future for the Holly Square shopping center, which was devastated by a gang-related arson fire in May 2008. The Piton Foundation also made a sizable financial commitment.

The Anschutz Foundation has supported Boys & Girls Clubs for many years. These clubs are well established elsewhere in the Metro area, but have never operated in Northeast Park Hill.

While the new Boys & Girls Club will take the majority of the space at the Nancy P. Anschutz Center, the Prodigal Son Initiative will also serve the community from the Center.

“Thanks to The Anschutz Foundation, and the work and support of so many organizations dedicated to improving Denver, this is one of those incredible days that show sometimes dreams do come true,” said John Arigoni, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, at the groundbreaking celebration. “This center will push forward our mission of helping children to change their lives for the better in an area of Denver where we have needed a facility for quite some time. The number of children and families this center will positively impact in this neighborhood in the short and long term is profound and we cannot wait to open the doors in 2013.”

The burned out Holly Square property was purchased by the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC), with additional support from Denver’s Office of Economic Development, in 2009. The ULC also oversaw demolition of the burned structures on the 2.6-acre site. With the support of ULC, The Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods Program, and then Denver City Councilman (now Mayor) Michael B. Hancock, the residents of Northeast Park Hill formed into a community-wide action group, the Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP), to create a new vision for the site.
"No one can overestimate the power of education and positive mentorship from organizations like Boys & Girls Club and Prodigal Son," said Denver District Eight City Councilman Albus Brooks. "This tremendous investment, which will be a payoff for generations to come, is a major catalyst in the redevelopment of Northeast Park Hill."

“I am very proud of the work we have done with Prodigal Son since I started it back in 2005, but there is plenty of work yet to do, and this partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Nancy P. Anschutz Center will make a huge difference in that work for us,” said Terrance Roberts, Executive Director of The Prodigal Son Initiative.

LaDawn Sullivan, Program Officer at The Denver Foundation highlighted the Northeast Park Hill Community members as the true catalysts. “People are looking at us from around the country and the globe to learn how to change community from the inside out,” Sullivan stated. “This is a model of relation building, collaboration, and equal partnership.”

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Angelle Fouther
Denver Foundation
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