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2007 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement

2007 Awards cover

This publication is also available as a PDF (20 pp, 1MB, about PDF). Hard copies available by emailing nscep@bps-lmit.com or calling (800) 490-9198 and requesting EPA 231-K-07-001.


A Message from EPA Administrator Steve Johnson

Stephen L. Johnson, EPA Administrator
National Award for Smart Growth Achievement logo

On behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, I extend my congratulations to the recipients of the 2007 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

During my 26 years as a public servant, I have witnessed what can be achieved when partners come together to address our nation's environmental challenges. And today, we see those amazing results all around us. Our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected than just a generation ago.

As we move forward and advance environmental ethics like smart growth, together we are not only building on our nation's environmental accomplishments, we are creating a lasting legacy for our children and grandchildren.

By turning to smart growth approaches, these award-winning partner communities are transforming environmental eyesores into sources of local pride, preserving ecologically sensitive open space, and protecting our precious air and water resources.

President Bush and EPA see smart growth as smart for the environment, smart for our economy and smart for our quality of life. And together with our vital community partners — including these 2007 award recipients — we are helping America responsibly build toward that healthier, brighter future.

Stephen L. Johnson
Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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How Smart Growth Protects The Environment

Smart growth strategies help communities achieve not only their economic and social goals, but also their environmental goals, such as cleaner air and water, open space and critical habitat preservation, and redevelopment of vacant land. The following examples, drawn from previous award winners, highlight the benefits of using smart growth principles to shape development.

  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was honored in 2006 for its commitment to using state funds to support infill development. Research has demonstrated that infill development improves air and water quality and uses less land than building on greenfields. The Massachusetts infill strategy, which targeted infrastructure investments to existing areas, protected 35,000 acres of land that would otherwise have been developed. In addition, the state's bond program to support transit-oriented development has generated about 100 planned or completed developments near transit, yielding 37 million square feet of new development. Locating new growth near transit reduces development pressure on open space and gives people options besides driving, which can reduce automobile emissions and help protect air quality.
  • Demonstrating the benefits of good waterfront development, Winooski, Vermont, was honored in 2006 for its downtown redevelopment project. Informed by an extensive public process, the project revitalized the small town with new development that preserved or restored nearly 100 acres of natural habitat, returned vacant properties to productive use, and built RiverWalk, a promenade that connects downtown to the river and its adjacent natural preserve. Public investment of $38 million to support the more pedestrian-friendly downtown area has yielded private investment of more than $169 million, 500 new homes, and 300,000 square feet of offices, shops, and restaurants. The effort not only reoriented the town to its historic waterfront, but also expanded housing and transportation options for Winooski residents.
  • Highlands' Garden Village, a 2005 award winner, employs several water-quality protection strategies, including its very location: a 27-acre former amusement park in the middle of Denver. Directing growth to already degraded land protects regional water resources. The amount of development in this compact, mixed-use project would have used 100 acres if developed on a greenfield at average Denver densities. Instead, the project put 306 housing units, office space, and 90,000 square feet of neighborhood serving retail on 27 acres. In addition, the site is laid out in a way that makes walking around the neighborhood easy and pleasant. Approximately 140,000 square feet of open spaces and pedestrian paths flow throughout the site, as does a restored urban creek. Sunken gardens, drought-tolerant landscaping, and stormwater detention areas reduce the amount and improve the quality of the water running off the site.

Click here for more information about the environmental benefits of smart growth.

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About The Award

EPA created the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement in 2002 to recognize outstanding approaches to development that benefit the economy, the community, public health, and the environment. Over the past six years, EPA has received 481 applications from 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Each award winner has successfully used the principles of smart growth to improve existing communities or to build new communities that expand economic development opportunities, enhance quality of life, and preserve the natural environment. Through innovative ideas and collaboration, the winners crafted policies and projects that foster healthy, vibrant, and diverse communities.

This year's rotating category recognizes the special growth challenges that waterfront and coastal communities face. The natural beauty and wildlife habitat that attract people and development to these areas also require careful protection. Coastal and waterfront communities must balance the need to accommodate more homes, jobs, and schools with their responsibility to preserve environmentally sensitive areas for ecological function and recreational use. Smart growth principles help waterfront and coastal communities protect water quality and critical natural resources; attract tourism and business revenue; and maintain historic waterfront and coastal character. By helping communities find better development choices, smart growth approaches can also reduce the pressure to build upon sensitive coastal or waterfront areas.

The award winners were chosen through a multi-step process. A panel of experts representing a broad range of constituencies with interest and expertise in the built environment and the principles of smart growth assessed the entries. An internal EPA review panel provided additional comments. EPA's Associate Administrator for Policy, Economics, and Innovation made the final award determinations.

Smart Growth Principles

  1. Mix land uses.
  2. Take advantage of compact building design.
  3. Create housing opportunities and choices for a range of household types, family sizes, and incomes.
  4. Create walkable neighborhoods.
  5. Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place.
  6. Preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty, and critical environmental areas.
  7. Strengthen and direct development towards existing communities.
  8. Provide a variety of transportation choices.
  9. Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost-effective.
  10. Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions.

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National Award for Smart Growth Achievement Winners

mixed use housing

Mixed-use developments allow residents to walk to local shops while running daily errands.

Overall Excellence in Smart Growth
New Columbia: Building Community Together
Housing Authority of Portland
Portland, Oregon

Built Projects
High Point Redevelopment
Seattle Housing Authority
Seattle, Washington

Policies and Regulations
Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
State of Vermont

Waterfront and Coastal Communities
Balanced Growth Through Downtown Revitalization
Town of Barnstable
Hyannis, Massachusetts

Equitable Development
Abyssinian Neighborhood Project
The Borough of Manhattan
Harlem, New York

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Overall Excellence in Smart Growth

New Columbia: Building Community Together
Housing Authority of Portland
Portland, Oregon

Local businesses and residents were hired for portions of the construction, and former residents who wish to return have done so. The ethnic diversity of the neighborhood was unaffected by the revitalization. New Columbia remains one of Portland's most diverse neighborhoods.

For More Information:
Pamela Kambur (PamelaK@hapdx.org)
Community Relations Manager
Housing Authority of Portland
Tel: 503-802-8508

New Columbia Street

New Columbia's "green street" design, including 100 pocket swales helps reduce stormwater runoff.

Sidewalk with fruit stand

Amenities such as a local grocery store and wide sidewalks improve access for residents of all ages.

Columbia Villa was an isolated and distressed 82-acre public housing site. The Housing Authority of Portland (HAP) partnered with public and private stakeholders to redevelop the site and create New Columbia, a neighborhood built to improve economic opportunity, community livability, and environmental quality for both old and new residents.

The new development increased the number of housing units from 462 rentals to 854 rental and ownership units. Housing options range from low-income apartment rentals comprised of families at or below 60 percent of median family income to market-rate single-family homes. The site was reintegrated into the surrounding neighborhood by connecting to the traditional street grid. Amenities in the new neighborhood include community college classrooms, a new Boys and Girls Club, the Rosa Parks Elementary School, parks, and retail destinations including a coffee shop and the Big City Produce store.

The 28-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) conducted a series of Sunday morning design workshops to engage local residents. Through this process, residents advised on all aspects of the project. The New Columbia Newsletter, which was created by the CAC, informed residents of the project's progress.

The site was designed to improve on the environmental performance of the old development. All residents are within a five-minute walk of public transportation. Two mixed-use buildings in New Columbia have LEED certification, and LEED Gold was awarded to the new school. By replacing the old sub-surface infrastructure, New Columbia has 80 percent less underground piping than comparable developments. Approximately 98 percent of all stormwater is now processed on site, which prevents further contamination of the Columbia River Slough. The "green street" system includes approximately 100 vegetated pocket swales. The street design purposely avoided mature trees — saving more than 50 percent of the existing tree stock.

Child next to fountain

New Columbia provides a range of housing opportunities for residents of various incomes.

"We moved back because it looks like a new city, with a lot of amenities and opportunities for both children and adults. I always wanted to come back because I like the part of town, I like the park, and it's close to where I work."
- Rosa Rodriguez, Resident

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Built Projects

High Point Redevelopment
Seattle Housing Authority
Seattle, Washington

SHA built the vibrant High Point community by leveraging public and private investments. Sixty percent of the $210 million housing budget came from private sources, including land sales, affordable housing tax credits, and capital investments. Due to the environmentally sensitive design, the High Point redevelopment is estimated to save approximately $17 million annually by reducing energy demand, wastewater treatment needs, and road maintenance.

For More Information
Tom Phillips (TPhillips@Seattlehousing.org)
Senior Development Manager
Seattle Housing Authority
Tel: 206-615-3414

playground

Through the use of compact development, the community preserved 12 acres of open space.

neighborhood garden

The creation of local community gardens builds a strong sense of place.

The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) worked closely with community members to rebuild a formerly crime-ridden and dilapidated 120-acre hilltop neighborhood into a mixed-use, mixed-income, and environmentally sensitive community.

Using green building principles, High Point's more than 1,700 new units are expected to consume less water, electricity, and natural gas than the old community's 716 units. The 600 rental housing units built by SHA are all certified at the highest standards established by Built Green™, a building program that certifies environmentally friendly products in King and Snohomish Counties, Washington. This project is the nation's first Energy Star-rated rental housing development with tankless heating systems and front-loading washers and dryers. Approximately 10 percent of the rental units are Breathe Easy® homes, designed and built for asthma sufferers.

The site occupies 10 percent of the watershed of Seattle's most significant salmon stream. The old public housing site contributed significant amounts of polluted runoff to the nearby stream. The new development included a new natural drainage system under the entire site — the nation's largest. Now, water entering the stream from High Point is as clean as if it had percolated through a natural meadow — despite more than doubling the development's density.

The award-winning design of High Point addresses social sustainability by involving residents, connecting the site to surrounding neighborhoods, and mixing uses and incomes. The resident design committee met bi-weekly and participated in the design of buildings and open space. The new development includes new parks, a public library and health clinic, and retail space to come in 2009. The mixed-income neighborhood is comprised of 50/50 ratio of rental and owner-occupied units. The redevelopment has increased low-income housing opportunities by 43 percent. Additionally, owner-occupied units have sold for up to 50 percent above Seattle's median home prices, representing a growing desire to live in this once blighted community.

pedestrian only walkway

Pedestrian-friendly walkways encourage residents to walk, which reduces air pollution.

"The community is being built for the residents, not for the housing authority and not for the architects. It is being built with the opinion of the community."
LaVonne Conquest, a longtime High Point resident

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Policies and Regulations

Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
State of Vermont

VHCB utilized more than $150 million in private equity raised through the low-income housing and the historic rehabilitation tax credits to create mixed-use, mixed-income developments located near existing transit systems. These investments have created pedestrian-friendly, walkable communities while limiting the impacts on valuable open spaces.

For More Information
Pam Boyd (pboyd@vhcb.org)
Communications Director
Vermont Housing & Conservation Board
Tel: 802-828-5075

Railroad tracks

Prior to redevelopment, the banks of Lake Champlain were dotted with old oil tanks.

The state of Vermont promotes compact settlements surrounded by rural countryside. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) supports this goal by funding affordable housing development in existing population centers and by preserving historic resources, farmland, forests, and public access to recreational lands. The agency pursues affordable housing, land conservation, and historic preservation initiatives under a single unique, synergistic program, which balances priorities.

Statewide, the agency ensures that investments in one area will not adversely impact another priority. In pursuit of these goals, the agency has strategically funded affordable housing investment projects to focus development in village centers; employing existing structures with on-site water and sewer lines. This initiative promotes mixed-use, mixed-income and walkable neighborhoods. Legal agreements guarantee permanent affordability, recycling the state's investment for future generations of renters and homeowners. Since 2002, VHCB investments of $84 million have supported the development of 3,191 affordable homes and 44 historic buildings and the conservation of 37,279 acres of farmland, natural areas, and recreation lands.

VHCB has focused its policies and programs on the redevelopment and revitalization of Vermont's village centers while striving to conserve its vast open spaces and economically important farmland. As a result, VHCB has conserved over 37,000 acres of farmland and open space in the last five years. This accounts for more than 10 percent of Vermont's best agricultural soils. Additionally, VHCB has provided business planning and technical assistance to 150 farmers. This effort is helping to protect Vermont's vital farmlands and rural character.

The program's policies have preserved open spaces and improved environmental quality. Land preservation protects watershed functions, reduces stormwater runoff, and cleans up contamination. Compact redevelopment in village centers has provided increased transportation options, thus reducing auto-related emissions.

Man walking on a boardwalk

Utilizing VHCB's tools and funding, city officials created the Urban Reserve, which includes conservation easements — allowing limited development and improving access to the waterfront.

"Through strategic advice and grant awards, VHCB has been an active, engaged, and essential partner in helping the Town of Manchester add much needed affordable housing in its downtown while also helping to conserve high priority farmland that remains in active agricultural use today. We are most thankful for VHCB's assistance in helping us to achieve these key community goals."
- Lee A Krohn, AICP, Planning Director, Town of Manchester, Vermont; Chair, Manchester Community Land Trust

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Waterfront and Coastal Communities

Balanced Growth Through Downtown Revitalization
Town of Barnstable
Hyannis, Massachusetts

Public space and streetscape improvements have been integral in the revitalization of Hyannis. The redevelopment plan has reconnected residents to the waterfront and downtown by creating pedestrian-friendly walkways. Bicycle and public transit routes are reconnected to main streets and residential neighborhoods while new residential developments are linked harmoniously to natural areas and wetlands.

For More Information
Ruth J. Weil (Ruth.weil@town.barnstable.ma.us)
Director of Growth Management
Town of Barnstable
Tel: 508-862-4678

Aselton Park

The addition of a pedestrian friendly walkway in Aselton Park provides public access to the waterfront.

People walking in Bismore Park

Seven small gallery spaces in Bismore Park connect the downtown streetscape to the waterfront while providing local artists with opportunities to exhibit their work.

In recent decades, the town of Barnstable, Massachusetts, a coastal community on Cape Cod, has experienced tremendous growth. Hyannis, one of the town's seven villages, saw growth at its edges characterized by low-density residential subdivisions and strip retail, while its downtown was plagued with vacant storefronts and disinvestment. This pattern strained local infrastructure and impacted the town's fragile natural resources and historic character.

Over the past three years, the community and local decision-makers created a development strategy that encourages growth and development in Hyannis' urban center (where municipal water and sewer are available) while reducing growth pressure on environmentally sensitive areas along the coast. Specifically, the town has:

  • Adopted expedited permitting process for downtown development, inclusionary zoning, workforce housing incentives, design guidelines, and downtown mixed-use zoning;
  • Made extensive infrastructure investments in streetscapes and wastewater treatment;
  • Created development offsets that move development from outlying areas to downtown; and
  • Improved connections and public access to the waterfront.

The result has been a renaissance for downtown Hyannis. Since the smart growth initiative, there have been 93 new residential units (nine affordable) created with another 141 units planned. Approximately 22,000 square feet of commercial space has been completed with an additional 100,000 square feet planned. The redevelopment has already resulted in 342 new jobs and $25 million in private investment.

The town has purchased land and transferred development to downtown — protecting sole source aquifers and other sensitive natural areas. Downtown development occurs on city water and sewer infrastructure rather than the septic systems typical of development in outlying areas. The town made significant investments in the treatment plant and adopted the use of low impact design techniques such as green roofs and rain gardens. The net result has been more protection for undeveloped areas and greener redevelopment driving the downtown resurgence.

street fair

The implementation of mixed-use redevelopment along Main Street has attracted residents and visitors back to downtown Hyannis.

"The results of the Downtown Hyannis revitalization have been remarkable. Thanks to our collaboration with local stakeholders and the implementation of smart growth initiatives, what just a few years ago was a blighted and underperforming village center is now a place where people desire to live, work and play. Both residential and commercial development is flourishing downtown and newly fostered arts and culture programs have contributed to the renaissance of downtown Hyannis."
- John Klimm, Town Manager, Town of Barnstable

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Equitable Development

Abyssinian Neighborhood Project
The Borough of Manhattan
Harlem, New York

The Abyssinian Neighborhood Project area, located within Manhattan, was once marked by vacant lots and abandoned buildings. The Abyssinian Development Corporation launched a community development initiative to increase affordable housing options, revitalize the business corridor, and expand job training opportunities to the community.

For More Information
Scott Stringer (bp@manhattanbp.org)
President
Office of Manhattan Borough President
Tel: 212-669-8300

abandoned building

To improve the community's quality of life, ADC cleaned up contamination and redeveloped the vacant Smalls Paradise Jazz Club building.

Laura B. Thomas House

Redevelopment projects, such as the Laura B. Thomas House, provide affordable housing for families on fixed incomes, while returning the building to productive use.

Through partnerships with The Abyssinian Baptist Church, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Urban Technical Assistance Project at Columbia University and the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC) developed a strategy to expand the housing and commercial options for central Harlem. Over 200 affordable housing units were built with an additional 200 affordable units planned. These include 25 units of transitional housing for homeless families, 68 rental units reserved for formerly homeless families, and 135 rental units to accommodate low- and moderate-income families. The Abyssinian Neighborhood Project created 15,000 square feet of commercial space for five local businesses, which has helped revitalize the central Harlem business corridors.

A key element of the project was to address the social and economic needs of the community. Comprehensive programs were developed to link education, job training, and cultural enhancement. For example, ADC established an award-winning Head Start educational institution, constructed a state-of-the-art educational facility, and helped to create and support five block associations and a neighborhood leadership group. Additionally, ADC has implemented Youthbuild, a workforce development program that has provided on-the-job construction trade training for 40 teens and young adults.

Neighborhood revitalization achieved multiple positive environmental outcomes by building near available infrastructure; cleaning up abandoned buildings and vacant lots; and creating new green space. This type of infill development minimizes the impact of stormwater runoff by reusing existing paved surfaces when compared to greenfield development. Residents now have ample access to biking and walking routes and public transit, which improves air quality when compared to places that rely solely on automobiles for daily travel. Benefits derived from improving economic opportunities, environmental quality, and the physical character of the community create a model of community-based planning that can be replicated to serve other communities.

Thurgood Marshall Academy

Through public collaboration, ADC designed the new Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning & Social Change, a state-of-the-art educational center.

"As a client of ADC and a resident of The Abyssinian Neighborhood, watching the transformation taking place here is truly inspiring. To be able to live, work and shop in my neighborhood, gives me and other residents a renewed sense of engagement, ownership and most importantly, community."
- Kisha Spence, Harlem Community Resident

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Past Award Winners

Wicita, Kansas neighborhood

Through innovative strategies and collaborative problem-solving, the city of Wichita, Kansas, has created a new neighborhood near downtown.

2006 Award Winners

Massachusetts Office for Commonwealth Development
Overall Excellence in Smart Growth

City of Wichita, Kansas
Built Projects

Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
Policies and Regulations

City of Winooski, Vermont
Small Communities

Chicago Department of Planning and Development
Equitable Development

 

Orlando Florida Park

When the city of Orlando transformed a closed Naval Training Center into an exciting new community, 16 extra acres of parkland were created using innovative underground stormwater management systems.

2005 Award Winners

Denver Urban Renewal Authority
Overall Excellence in Smart Growth

City of Lakewood, Colorado, and Lakewood Development Department
Built Projects

City of Pasadena, California, Planning and Development Department
Policies and Regulations

Town of Redding, Connecticut
Small Communities

City of Orlando, Florida
Military Base Redevelopment

 

Tsigo Bugeh Village

In San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, the design for Tsigo Bugeh Village is inspired by traditional pueblos, with buildings clustered around two plazas.

2004 Award Winners

Town of Davidson, North Carolina
Overall Excellence in Smart Growth

City of Greensboro, North Carolina
Built Projects

City of Santa Cruz, California
Policies and Regulations

Sacramento Area, California, Council of Governments
Community Outreach and Education

San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico
Small Communities

 

Naval Housing

The Department of the Navy provides a variety of types and sizes of homes to meet the different needs of military families.

2003 Award Winners

Metropolitan Council, Minnesota
Overall Excellence in Smart Growth

Department of the Navy
Built Projects

Georgia Office of Quality Growth
Community Outreach and Education

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Treasurer's Office
Policies and Regulations

City of Raleigh and Wake County, North Carolina, Public School System
Public Schools

 

Rosslyn-Ballston corridor

In Arlington County, Virginia, higher-density development is clustered around the Metro stations along the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.

2002 Award Winners

Arlington County, Virginia
Overall Excellence in Smart Growth

Town of Breckenridge, Colorado, Planning Department
Built Projects

City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County, California
Policies and Regulations

Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs
Community Outreach and Education

 

Click here for more information on the past winners.

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Acknowledgements

National Building Museum
The 2007 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement ceremony was held at the National Building Museum Link to EPA's External Link Disclaimer in Washington, DC, on November 14. The National Building Museum, created by an act of Congress in 1980, is America's leading cultural institution dedicated to exploring and celebrating architecture, design, engineering, construction, and urban planning. Since opening its doors in 1985, the museum has become a vital forum for exchanging ideas and information about such topical issues as managing landmark preservation, urban revitalization, sustainable and affordable design, and suburban growth. Its engaging exhibitions and education programs, including innovative curricula for school children and stimulating programs for adults, annually attract nearly 400,000 people, making the museum the most-visited institution of its kind in the world.

Thanks to our Review Panel
Laurence Aurbach
Noreen Beatley
John Carey - University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program
Theodore Eisenman - The Highlands Coalition
Deeohn Ferris - Sustainable Community Development Group, Inc.
John W. Frece - National Center for Smart Growth, University of Maryland
Martin Harris - National Association of Counties
Andrew Kleine - Corporation for National and Community Service
Sophie Cantell Lambert - The Urban Land Institute, Washington
Hugh Morris - National Association of REALTORS®
Elizabeth Morton - Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Richard Reinhard - Downtown DC Business Improvement District
Sue Schwartz - City of Greensboro, North Carolina
Julia Seward - Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Sarah van der Schalie - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Photo Credits
Front cover: Central Park, New York City, NY. Photo courtesy of Brett Van Akkeren.
Winners page: Newbury Street, Boston, MA. Photo courtesy of Liisa Ecola.
Case study photos courtesy of award winners.
2002 and 2003 Award Winners: Arlington, VA. Photo courtesy of Arlington County. Gateway Village, San Diego, CA. Photo courtesy of the Department of the Navy.
2004 and 2005 Award Winners: San Juan Pueblo, NM. Photo courtesy of Jamie Blosser. Baldwin Park, Orlando, FL. Photo courtesy of Baldwin Park Development Company.
2006 Award Winner: Old Town Wichita, KS. Photo courtesy of the city of Wichita, KS.
Acknowledgements: Belmar, Lakewood, CO. Photo courtesy of the city of Lakewood, CO.

Belmar, new downtown center

Belmar, a new downtown center in Lakewood, CO, has transformed a declining shopping center into a vibrant gathering place for residents.

For more information about the National Award for Smart Growth Achievement and EPA's other smart growth activities, visit the EPA's smart growth home page.

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