A relatively young city, incorporated in 1969, Lakewood has grown rapidly thanks to its prime location near the Rocky Mountain, excellent schools and high yield of cultural offerings. The city’s top employer is the Denver Federal Center, but it’s also home to headquarters for Einstein Bros. Bagels, 1stBank and The Integer Group. A collection of lakes provides plenty of opportunities to swim, fish and boat.
Great Schools & Amenities
When they get to Lakewood, people like what they find. The city ranked high in the 100 Best Places to Live rating for its outstanding educational options, including a highly ranked public school system and Red Rocks Community College. It also received good marks for its variety of popular amenities, which include great outdoor recreational opportunities, but also a rich cultural scene that is sophisticated and reflective of the city’s diverse population.
Lakewood has more than 7,000 acres of parks, trails and open space – 35 percent of its entire land area – including two parks that are 2,500 acres each. The city maintains four full-service recreation centers and a cultural center that offers arts education and includes a 300-seat Broadway-style theater where, in summer 2015 you could enjoy Latin music, a film about country star Glen Campbell, Indian dance and a production of Anything Goes. The Lakewood Heritage Center museum maintains a huge collection of artifacts and photographs that detail local and state history.
One of Lakewood’s most important assets is the Regional Transportation District (RTD) light rail system that makes it possible to be in downtown Denver in minutes. Soon, a rail link to Denver International Airport will make travel even easier. As Murphy points out, “When you live in a place where it snows a lot, a multimodal transit system is a big amenity.”
Building a transit system was one big part of planning for Lakewood’s growth over the past several years, as was building a downtown center. The site of the aging regional Villa Italia Mall, Belmar is now a vibrant new urbanist center that encompasses 22 square city blocks containing residences, major shopping, and entertainment and dining options. More than 2,000 people live in Belmar, and 3,000 work there every day.
“Between the light rail line and Belmar, we’ve transformed into a place where more people come into Lakewood to work every day than leave to work every day,” Murphy says. “Given the recreational and cultural opportunities, our job growth and land-use planning, we have kind of ‘densified’ and become truly a place where people can live, work and play.”
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