Speak Now

Protesting is the official team sport of Boulder. So what happens when a new development owns the streets?

Lakewood's Belmar development, however, took an entirely different approach when it opened in 2004. Denver-based Continuum Partners built a new downtown on the 105 acres that were once Villa Italia Mall, but the streets, sidewalks and parks are owned by the City of Lakewood and considered public space. The infill project was accomplished with a significant partnership between the developer and the city -- not to mention a complicated public/private financing arrangement. The result is that citizens not only have the ability to window-shop on the sidewalks, but they could also hold a peaceful protest of Victoria's Secret or seek signatures for an anti-abortion measure -- or bum change for a sandwich. Or not.

"By creating public streets, we were saying, 'Look, this framework belongs to the community now -- it doesn't belong to us anymore,'" says Tom Gougeon, chief development officer for Continuum. "We, as the developer, can't decide down the line that we don't want that street anymore; that's the city's decision, the community's.

It's a subtle thing, but public ownership of the streets has a lot of implications about free speech and all kinds of behavior," he continues. "If someone wants to go out and say 'I'm against the war' and they're not bothering anybody or creating a hazard, they can. Because that's what public space is about."

Mark Andresen

Location Info


Twenty Ninth Street Mall

1710 29th St.
Boulder, CO 80301

Category: Community Venues

Region: Boulder

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