First phase of residential development to be complete by May

By Kristi Arellano
Denver Post Business Writer

The Belmar neighborhood has begun to rise from the ruins of Villa Italia mall, and the first phase of residential development should be complete when retail shops open there in May.

Continuum Partners on Wednesday unveiled plans for the first 244 homes in the 103-acre neighborhood taking shape on the former Lakewood shopping mall site.

The Belmar project combines retail, homes, restaurants and offices and has been held up as an example of smart growth.

Lakewood City Manager Mike Rock called the homes the project's linchpin. Not only will they help the city fulfill its vision of having an active town center, they'll also help lure a coveted demographic.

"Right now, we're under-represented on the side of the younger, high-income worker," he said. "This provides a housing choice for people who are not heavily represented in our population."

Continuum is handling the retail and commercial development and is building 100 apartments and 12 loft-style condominiums, some above shops and restaurants. Boulder-based McStain Neighborhoods is building another 132 rowhomes, which should be complete this fall.

"The housing component is an incredibly important part of this project," said Eliza Prall, Continuum's director of marketing and community development. "It provides a 24/7 aspect that is critical to the project."

The McStain rowhomes will range from two to five bedrooms and start at $233,000. The loft- style condos will start in the mid- $200,000s. Rents have not been set for the apartment component. Continuum plans to include some affordable housing in a future phase.

The completed $750 million Belmar development will include 1.2 million square feet of retail space, 800,000 square feet of offices, a hotel and about 1,300 townhomes, condos and apartments. It is expected to generate $100 million in sales-tax revenue over the next 20 years.