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Nonprofit that gives thousands of bikes to needy could end in face of new building development

Posted at 9:40 PM, Jan 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 00:01:43-05

AURORA, Colo.-- A new bike can light up a kid's face or help someone struggling get on their feet with a new mode of transportation. That's the goal of Aurora nonprofit Second Chance Bicycle Shop, which handed out 300 bikes to needy children this past Christmas.

But it could all come to an end if they can't find a place to move their shop, now that Northstar Commercial Partners has plans to redevelop the area where the shopping center sits.               

For more than 15 years, Ernie Clarke has refurbished dumped or used bikes to give to kids who could use one.

"We have kids come in, they've never saw a bike, never had a bike, you know, and when you see their faces that's the pay right there,” said Clarke.

Denver7 featured Clarke as a 7 Everyday Hero because of the lives he's helped change, which extend beyond kids. Army Veteran Edward Trujillo needed one to help him get to a job interview.

"I have a lot of confidence now, especially from where I came to where I am now. I have a lot of confidence that I can obtain the goals that I am seeking and I can get there on time now," said Trujillo.

But now Clarke and his volunteers could use some help. Up until now, he tells Denver7, the property manager was allowing them to run the nonprofit rent-free. But, as the area will be redeveloped,  the building where the non-profit is housed will likely be torn down.

Northstar Commercial Partners spokesperson Kyle Forti told Denver7 an agreement was made for a two-year, rent-free time period allowed for Clarke and his volunteers. That time would come to an end once the work on the development in that area begins.

"I was sick. I didn't know what to do,” said Clarke. “We can't do anything else. We can't fight city hall."

He worries his nonprofit will come to an end.

"You have all these kids whose parents can't afford bicycles. There’s no more people like us out there to do this,” said Clarke. “If we can get another building, we can just keep on going like the way we are now."

If you would like to reach Second Chance Bicycle Shop, visit their Facebook page.

Northstar Commercial Partners sent the following statement:

We purchased this property as a mostly vacant distressed property, that needed to be redeveloped to create more jobs and opportunity for the local community. The City recognized this asset was a blight in the community and they wanted to work together to create something productive again, including hopeful affordable housing, retail, etc. The City came to us after we purchased the property and asked if we knew of any way to help a friend of the local community, Ernie at Second Chance Bikes. We absolutely loved Ernie and his vision and after learning about his needs, offered him free space there on the property with an open invitation to stay until the project to redevelop came to fruition. We even helped him expand his operation with more free space during his tenancy. We’re thrilled to have been able to provide a home for Second Chance Bikes for two years now, with donated space. We remain big fans and wish him all the very best on his future work in the community. We hope to continue to stay in touch and help out when we can. 

     -Kyle Forti

     Public Relations and Partnerships