"It lends credibility to the neighborhood, which is an important aspect of what we've sought for a number of years," Belt said.
Oklahoma City planner Susan Miller agreed, noting Paseo is joined on the 2010 list by notable places including Denver's LoDo district, Oak Park's Frank Lloyd Wright Historic Neighborhood and Hyde Park in Cincinnati.
"This places the Paseo and Oklahoma City in a very prestigious group," Miller said. "Hopefully the Paseo can build off this distinction and bring more residents and businesses into the area."
Miller said the award also indicates the city is on the right path with its approach to design review and mixed-use zoning.
"Mixed-use zoning allows people to live, work, and play in proximity," Miller said. "People are able to build community because they see each one another more often, they interact face-to-face instead of spending time in their cars."
Both Belt and Miller agree that Paseo is far from being complete. Still, most of the boarded-up buildings that left the area blighted 20 years ago have been fixed up, and Belt is renovating the last eyesore on Paseo Drive — the old Spaghetti Factory building.
"The Paseo is not without its challenges," Miller said. "The neighborhood does not have a fresh-food market within walking distance, and the majority of its business uses are specific — arts and food and entertainment. The diversity of uses could be broadened so that the area is active throughout the day, not just during lunch or dinner."
2010 Great Neighborhoods