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Belmar in Lakewood celebrates a big milestone, Colorado community's experiment pays off

Experiment to fix downtown Lakewood paying off decades later
Experiment to fix downtown Lakewood paying off decades later 02:51

It has been 20 years since Lakewood officials aimed to change the struggling Villa Italia mall into something more. Two decades into the experiment, new residents and Lakewood lifers feel the impact of Belmar has been a net positive in more ways than one.


 "We've lived in this neighborhood about 20 years now and I love it," says Monique Macias, who has lived in this area since the 1980's. It's movie night for her and her granddaughter. A pleasant evening in what she's come to know as Belmar.

"The shopping is so convenient and it's nice so we don't have so many cars on the road there's so much traffic as it is," Macias says.

A grand experiment to transform the Villa Italia mall that began 20 years ago this weekend. One that new Lakewood resident Leann Corbitt is thankful for.

"My favorite part is I feel really safe here and I know that can be hit or miss," Corbitt explains.



In 2014, the ten year anniversary of Belmar's creation, it was revealed that it contributed $17 million annually to Lakewood's revenue. In 2024, Belmar's total property value is around $33 million. That's good for around $2.5 million in property taxes and that's before you get to what they generate off sales in the area.

Corbitt feels it's been a good deal.

"You can sit and just kind of chill," says Corbitt. "The wind feels great here especially with the weather improving. You can get food, you can get drinks. You can really make the most of your time here."


That's sentiment echoed by an longtime resident in Macias.

"It's beautiful down here," Macias adds. "During the holidays all the lights are up. During the summer you get to eat on the patios. No, it's great. We love the neighborhood."

And in spite of foreclosure issues in the wake of the pandemic, Belmar's new owners -- Bridge 33 Capital -- believe that they can keep momentum for Lakewood's defacto downtown well into the future.

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