DENVER — The Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center remains closed and locked after a man allegedly broke in and caused millions of dollars in damage earlier this month.
The building isn’t expected to reopen until early March, and some repairs could take a year or more, according to the Colorado Judicial Branch. That extended closure is causing hardships for those who rely on the judicial center for their livelihoods.
Pipi Adams owns and operates the Justice Java coffee shop and bakery on the first floor of the center. Adams, who is blind, opened the shop in the summer of 2023 after her bid and business plan was chosen for the Business Enterprise Program.
“A couple of other blind friends told me about it,” Adams said. “It gives the opportunity for blind business owners to operate the coffee shops and cafes and the vending machines inside of federal and state buildings.”
Adams and her small team of baristas at Justice Java have been keeping judicial center staff and visitors caffeinated and smiling since July, and Adams said business was “going pretty well” until early January.
“I showed up here at 4:45 a.m. on January 2 and saw the fire trucks and police officers all around,” Adams recalled. “I walked up to the building here and was informed that there was an incident going on and that I would not be able to open today.”
Adams would come to learn that a man had allegedly shot his way into the building, held a security guard at gunpoint, and started a fire in the stairwell, according to Denver police. The damages are estimated at $35 million, which does not include the personal costs to people like Adams.
Justice Java has been shuttered since the incident and likely will not be able to reopen until early March. In addition to replacing the inventory that was lost through sprinkler damage and expiration, Adams — who is a single mom to her adopted teenage daughter — has to worry about making ends meet personally while she waits for her income to resume.
“I have to pay rent. I have to keep food on the table for my daughter and I,” she said.
To help her cover costs, Adams’ friends have created a GoFundMe campaign and are asking for donations.
For her part, Adams is doing everything she can to be ready to reopen Justice Jave the second she gets the green light.
“I have so many customers that, they come in every morning and they bring a smile to my face,” she said. “They come in, and they order the same thing every day pretty much, and they bring us so much joy. And we just miss them.”