Belmar is a landmark example of a “dying mall retrofit” that offers many important lessons. It goes a long way to transform a car-dominated destination in the sprawling suburb of Lakewood into a human-focused town center.
The 104 acres Villa Italia Mall has now been divided into a street grid of 22 city blocks, reconnecting this new urban development to its surrounding neighborhoods. They have successfully avoided the lure of high rise development: the majority of blocks are 2 to 6 story mixed-use, maintaining commercial activity at street level and adding primarily residential above. In addition to shops and restaurants, the area now includes theaters, artist studios, 300,000 square feet of office space, three parking garages, and over 1,200 residences. Bus lines have been added to improve pedestrian access.
While the transformation into a genuine town center is not yet complete, and vestiges of the old auto-dependent mall linger on in too many surface parking lots, the jury felt that a significant aspect of Belmar’s success is the quality of the public realm designed by Civitas. The attractiveness and walkability of the street grid, combined with a park and eco-friendly street designs encourage active mobility. The lively, beautiful, and completely traffic-free plaza at the heart of the new center gives Belmar a gathering place and locus for growth of a new place-based community. The jury looks forward to seeing Belmar develop a unique local character and vibrant street life.
MAKING CITIES LIVABLE CONFERENCES
In concurrence with the judgment of its Design Awards Jury
For Excellence in
Designing Healthy, 10-Minute Neighborhoods
Belmar Town Center
Scott Jordan, Civitas Inc, Denver, CO, USA
Continuum Partners, Tom Gougeon (Former Principal)