A plan to revitalize parts of Belmar moved one step closer to reality Feb. 7 when City Council gave the go ahead to draft an ordinance that would allow Entertainment Districts in the city.
According to information in City Staff’s presentation on Entertainment Districts, the State of Colorado has allowed municipalities to create Entertainment Districts since 2019. Entertainment Districts can be up to 100-acres in size, where people would be allowed to eat and drink alcohol in common outdoor areas. Those common consumption areas can be applied for by a group of businesses. Several mountain towns like Telluride, Salida, Leadville and Central City have already created common consumption areas. Denver, Aurora and Fort Collins also now have them.
In Lakewood, several areas have been mentioned as possibilities for Entertainment Districts, but the first and most likely would be Belmar. The City’s feeling is that currently, Belmar’s Plaza and Teller Street between Alaska and Virginia Avenues are under-utilized, sitting empty more often than not. They think creating an Entertainment District in those areas would allow the center’s businesses to be more nimble in driving use and visitors, creating the vibrant visitor experience Belmar was always meant to be, but never quite became.
For a Belmar Entertainment District to become a reality, an ordinance dictating a process to create them would have to be written and passed by City Council. Then, an application to create an Entertainment District would be made by Belmar. Finally, an association of Belmar businesses would be established, which would then apply for a common consumption area within the proposed areas.
New Ward 3 council member Rebekah Stewart said folks in her ward (where Belmar is located) are excited about the opportunities an Entertainment District would bring.
Lakewood Mayor Adam Paul said Belmar’s new ownership group has engaged with the community and understands how meaningful the center has been to the city. He said they realize that the town square concept an Entertainment District would allow for is really what the plaza was always meant to be.
“I’m excited that they’re taking this step,” he said. “And I think it’s just another tool in their toolbox of things that they’re going to try to do to help move Belmar to something even more special.”
Paul said the excitement generated in places like Old Town Arvada, Golden and Historic Littleton could be felt in Belmar as well.
“We didn’t have a true downtown, so we had to build a downtown,” he said. “So, I think the community will embrace it.”
He said the key will be in the activation — the doing it right.