Although Southlake Town Square opened in March 1999, its first piece of public artwork was unveiled December 6, 2011. Honoring the project’s visionary and developer, Southlake resident Brian Stebbins, a bronze sculpture titled “The Ties That Bind” by Jane DeDecker was placed at the corner of State and Main Streets in Rustin Park. Depicting a child and a father who have paused to tie the child’s shoe after playing in the park, the sculpture symbolizes the importance of family that has always been the heart of Southlake Town Square. Stebbins, along with his wife and two children, were present to view the sculpture that was created in his honor.
A dedication ceremony, lead by Mayor John Terrell, included former Mayors Rick Stacy and Gary Fickes, and Stebbins’ longtime business associate, Frank Bliss. Each spoke of the determination Stebbins had to bring something truly unique and of lasting significance to Southlake.
“I was elected mayor in May 1996 and from my first meeting with Brian, I knew his vision of Town Square was what we were looking for,” commented Stacy. “We both wanted to create a ‘heart of the city’ for people to enjoy.”
Stebbins arrived in Southlake in 1995 and 130 acres at the northeast corner of Carroll Avenue and Southlake Boulevard caught his eye. Where most people saw an open field and farm house, he saw a downtown with shops, restaurants and businesses. Working with city staff and leaders, Stebbins was able to incorporate a town hall, post office, sub-courthouse and county offices into the mixed-use development, making it a true gathering place where people could shop, eat, and conduct business.
According to Bliss, it is Stebbins’ extraordinary attention to detail, from architectural design and park spaces to street lights, that sets Town Square apart from other mixed-use projects.
“Brian brings an energy, tenacity, humor and passion to the planning, design and building process that motivates and empowers all around him. He is a leader who leads by example,” Bliss stated. “Everyone is a partner in the process, from Cooper & Stebbins’ employees, to our valued consultants and contractors, to City staff and leadership, to the entire Southlake community.”
During the past 12 years, Town Square has grown to encompass 1.1 million square feet, Brownstone residences, Harkins Theater, Southlake Hilton, and more than 150 stores. Most importantly, Town Square has remained true to its original purpose by hosting annual community events, as well as being a popular site for family gatherings and a visitor destination.
“Town Square is successful because of the teamwork of many people who through the years have worked toward a common goal of excellence. I am proud to be part of its history and to be here today honoring its development,” Terrell concluded. “However, I suspect that we are far from done. Ultimately, this heart of Southlake could cover more than three million square feet, an amazing number.”
The City’s investment in public art is made possible by taxes levied on hotel rooms. The Texas Legislature adopted the Municipal Hotel Occupancy Tax to provide cities a way to help promote the tourism and convention business, including cultural arts activities and programs. These funds are intended to improve and advocate the community and can’t be used for general city services. A portion of the bond funds set aside for roundabout construction was also utilized.
For more information about Southlake’s public art program, go to http://www.cityofsouthlake.com/public_art_/index.htm.