From the ashes of arson, revitalization rises in a Denver neighborhood

Holly Square in the northeast Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, Colorado has seen quite the transformation in the past six years.

From a shopping center that was burned to the ground in 2008 to the work that has been put in since by organizations such as the Urban Land Conservancy (ULC) and Denver’s Office of Economic Development, among others, Holly Square has made a big comeback.

Now, the Holly Area Redevelopment Project, a nonprofit group of residents and stakeholders, is revitalizing the remaining 1.2 acres in the square, with the new Roots Elementary charter school being a major step forward.

The former Holly Square Shopping Center was destroyed by arson in May of 2008. The property was purchased in April 2009 by ULC with assistance from the City of Denver’s Office of Economic Development.

ULC oversaw demolition of the burned structures on the 2.6 acre site, resolved environmental issues, and launched a community visioning process in 2009 with the help of The Denver Foundation’s Strengthening Neighborhoods Program (SN) called Holly Area Redevelopment Project (HARP).

HARP has worked for over six years to re-imagine the entire six-block area including and surrounding the former shopping center. HARP designed a unique visioning process which was open to the public to create a set of “Good Neighbor Principles” as well as a set of broad design concepts that ULC has committed to using in selecting a developer or developers for the site, and which will provide overall guidance to reinvestment in the surrounding community.

Recently, the conservancy partnered with the Colorado Construction Institute to build a $70,000 elevated walkway that links the Jack A. Vickers Boys and Girls Club in Holly Square with the Hope Center almost two blocks away.

The Boys and Girls Club opened in 2013. They lease space to nonprofit organizations. Another local revitalizer is Impact Empowerment Group, which provides programming and services for at-risk youth. Yet another is MiCasa Resource Center, which provides adults with guidance for entrepreneurial endeavors and career development.

See full Urban Land Conservancy article & photo credit.

See full Denver Post article.

See article announcing the Roots Charter School.

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