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LAKEWOOD, CO-Villa Italia, the largest regional mall between Chicago and California when it opened in 1966, has closed its doors for good. The 100-acre site in this city west of Denver will serve as the first Downtown for this city.

Continuum Partners of Denver owns the mall and will develop it into a mixed-use, New Urbanism project that eventually will include shops, restaurants, offices, a movie theater and housing. Lakewood is the fourth-largest city in Colorado, after Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora.

Most of the mall will be razed and will resemble an old-fashioned, pedestrian-friendly Downtown. The entire project could take 10 years, but the first phase will be completed by late 2003.

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