The Infrastructure Initiative explores infrastructure at Lakewood’s Belmar project, a national model for suburban site redevelopment.
The Belmar development in Lakewood, Colorado was highlighted in the Infrastructure Initiative’s new report Shifting Suburbs: Reinventing Infrastructure for Compact Development.
A 2006 ULI Award for Excellence winner, Belmar replaced the obsolete Villa Italia mall with a walkable downtown district. Belmar’s 103 acres of infill development are the product of a public/private partnership between the city of Lakewood and the developer Continuum Partners.
Larry Dorr, director of finance and city treasurer for the city of Lakewood, Colorado, Belmar presented the project at a ULI forum in Minneapolis in 2011. Infrastructure has been a key component of the story of Belmar’s reinvention.
Building the right infrastructure has been a key consideration. After clearing the site and conducting environmental remediation in 2001, Continuum Partners designed a new grid-based street system, with a matrix of 22 streets scaled to the size of city blocks. The city assumed ownership of the streets after completion. Belmar features wide sidewalks and narrow roads, encouraging walking and slowing traffic. Over-the-road cable lighting creates atmosphere and a sense of intimacy. Parking is concentrated in three large public garages with a total of 3,000 spaces, in addition to roughly 2,000 street and surface spaces. When the Denver area’s light-rail West Line, which will run east–west about two miles (3.2 km) north of Belmar, opens in 2013, existing bus service with increased frequency will connect it to Belmar.
Belmar has made a splash in the news and awards circuit, receiving not only ULI’s prestigious award, but also the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Charter Award in 2006 and the EPA Award for Smart Growth Achievement in 2005.
A recent Denver Post article profiled a family moving to Belmar and abandoning their car in favor of the walkable and transit-oriented amenities available to them at the new development.
In its response to changes in demographics and market trends, Belmar is continuing to serve as an important case study in the nation’s shift to more compact, mixed-use suburban centers.