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BELMAR Lake Wood, Colorado

From dead mall to downtown


Continuum Partners


Van Meter Williams Pollack | Elkus Manfredi | Civitas 

Land Use Program


  • 22 city blocks on 103 acres
  • 777,000 square feet of retail space
  • 868,000 square feet of office space
  • 190,000 square feet of hotel space
  • 1,048 housing units
  • 9 acres of public parks/plazas
  • 5,000 parking spaces (garage, surface and street)


Belmar represents a national model of “suburban retrofit” in which a dying midcentury mall was replaced with dense mixture of shopping, housing and employment on a fine grid of 22 new city blocks. According to its developer, Belmar is designed to “encourage pedestrian traffic, promote community building and emphasize the importance of public spaces.” It provided an urban downtown for the Denver suburb of Lakewood, which had none. Over several phases, retail was redesigned to face new streets and public spaces. Active uses enliven street frontages, even in garages, which are lined with art spaces, and sustainability features are incorporated throughout. Belmar introduced density and urban vitality in a suburban setting where retail was weak. While many mall retrofits provide an urban experience that is largely about luxury shopping and entertainment, Belmar offers day-to-day needs like groceries and services as well. Belmar’s small blocks, public streets and neighborhood parks make for a complete neighborhood that can evolve over time.

Lessons for Walkability

  • Belmar introduced a grid of 22 small city blocks, to create a flexible urban district — not just an “urban-themed” mall.
  • The central retail project is surrounded by a mix of uses, including housing, open space, civic uses and additional retail.
  • Buildings are oriented toward streets and public spaces, and "dead" frontages like a cinema and garage are lined with small retail and arts spaces.
  • Public art and events programming are used throughout Belmar to bring streets and spaces to life.

Images courtesy Van Meter, Williams, Pollack