From the beginning, Southlake Town Square was envisioned to be a downtown area where people lived or visited frequently to shop, dine, conduct business and simply “hang out.” The combination of stores, offices and brownstones with water features, benches and parks have made this a reality enjoyed by thousands each year.
And while the opening of a new store or restaurant in Town Square typically garners a crowd, more than 150 people gathered in the Garden District April 14 to commemorate the unveiling of Brian R. Stebbins Memorial Park, named in honor of the late founder and developer of Southlake Town Square, who passed away October 2012.
According to his longtime business partner at Cooper & Stebbins, Frank Bliss, Stebbins would be especially pleased to see his memory honored with the park.
“This is the sixth park in Town Square and it is an appropriate tribute to Brian as he began his career as a landscape architect. In fact, he designed the first one, Rustin Park, on a napkin,” Bliss said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony that was co-hosted by Cooper & Stebbins and the Southlake Chamber of Commerce.
Located behind the residential brownstones in The Garden District, the arboretum-like park was created by Southlake-based Highland Landscaping. The park features cast-stone bowls, decorative stone plinths, sidewalks, benches, boulders, and lighting so the park can be experienced at night.
Ian MacLean, president of Highland Landscaping, described the park as a leading edge, sustainable landscaping project that features a living exhibit of native and adapted plants – such as Texas lace cactus, Mexican feather grass, Queen Victoria agave, yucca and red hot poker – in a formal landscape design.
“This park is a glimpse into the future of landscaping and dramatically changing water resources in our region. The park incorporates a sustainable approach and demonstrates the beauty that can be accomplished with plants that naturally thrive in Texas. The park requires zero maintenance and no water beyond what Mother Nature provides,” explained MacLean, noting that a drip irrigation system was installed to supplement rainfall, if needed, and uses a smart meter that is controlled at the Highland Landscaping office.
Bliss commended the hard work of MacLean and his team, who worked on the park for more than a year.
“We thought it was going to be a challenge to find a landscaper to pull this off. After talking to Ian at a [Southlake] Chamber of Commerce event, I invited him to bid on the project. Not only did he come in with the lowest bid, which Brian would have liked, but he was enthusiastic and creative,” said Bliss. “This partnership demonstrates the power of the Chamber and leveraging relationships with local businesses.”
When Stebbins arrived in Southlake in 1995, 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. Although not yet complete, his vision has certainly become a reality.
Since opening in March 1999, Town Square has become a 1.4 million square foot regional destination encompassing more than 150 stores, brownstone residences, Harkins Theater, Southlake Hilton, and offices. 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.