An alternative Christian church on Monday won city approval to set up a shop for roller derby players. The shop will stand at 935 West 11th Avenue in Lincoln Park.
“It’s currently the home of the Scum of the Earth Church,” said city planner Scott Robinson as he explained the proposal to the Denver City Council. The church will stay in place, with the new store occupying part of the sanctuary room. It could sell skates, pads and other gear.
Council members and one neighbor had one major question: Was this going to be a rink for the sport, in which athletes on skates race around a course and jostle for position?
“Is it just what it sounds like — selling equipment? Or is it a facility where you’re skating in?” said Councilman Paul López.
“My major concern is it’s going to be a roller-derby concert venue, which just destroys my retirement,” said neighbor William Moore.
“You’re not doing roller derby in the building?” asked Councilman Kevin Flynn.
“And the church itself is not structured so there would be actual roller derby contests held there?” said Councilman Paul Kashmann.
Nope. Shoppers may be able to skate a little around the sanctuary to try out their gear, but that will be the extent of it, said pastor Jesse Heilmann. The church will also host events, possibly including free concerts.
“It will primarily remain a church, Scum of the Earth Church, but community is important both to our church and to roller derby in general — so there will be a lot of community events happening,” he said.
Moore, the neighbor, worried that it could signal a shift toward commercial uses in his residential neighborhood. But Heilmann and López noted that 11th Avenue is already home to many businesses in the area.
“What makes me feel good about this rezoning is, on 11th Avenue, it’s all commercial, almost,” López said. And he couldn’t help asking: Was Heilmann there to recruit Denver’s elected leaders to his church?
“Oh, we are all scum of the earth,” Heilmann said.
The council approved the rezoning in a 7-1 vote, with Flynn dissenting.
Heilmann previously told Denverite that the store could be open within six weeks of approval. Denver’s sole roller derby shop, Derbyville on South Broadway, closed two years ago.