Remembering the man who created Southlake Town Square

Brian Stebbins' legacy reaches beyond creation of Southlake Town Square, the thriving retail and residential district that gave the city of Southlake a downtown of its own, says the business partner who worked alongside him for 25 years.

"He leaves behind a vision, a master plan, an opportunity for the region that survives him," said Frank Bliss, president of Cooper and Stebbins, which developed Town Square.

Stebbins died on Oct. 2. He was 55.

The land that draws people today to live in upscale homes, shop, dine, take in a movie and even to get married at the gleaming City Hall was a chicken farm the first time Stebbins saw it in 1995.

"He called me later that year and said, 'Hey Frank, what would you think about building a downtown? '" said Bliss, smiling at the memory. "Who does that?"

The two had worked together developing properties since 1988. Like most developers, they would build, lease, sell and then repeat the cycle, Bliss said. But Stebbins wanted something longer lasting, something he called "generational," Bliss said.

The firm's plans in Southlake were driven by hard facts: The land was easily accessible by Texas 114, FM 1709 and North Carroll Avenue, and sat between two engines of economic growth — DFW International Airport and the Alliance Corridor.

But once Stebbins met people in the city, he found he liked their commitment to the city, to the Southlake Dragons and to their way of life. It reminded him of his hometown, Rockford, Ill., Bliss said.

Southlake Mayor John Terrell came onto the city Planning and Zoning Commission shortly after Cooper and Stebbins first proposed Town Square. He said Stebbins' attention to detail set him apart from other developers.

"He was concerned not just that Town Hall was going up, but that the columns looked right, the window details looked right, placement of each piece and type of store was proper, that the traffic flow was going to be conducive to people coming down and enjoying the central park area," said Terrell.

Both a resident of Southlake and an experienced, talented developer, Stebbins took pride in seeing that Town Square "was going to be the best project in the nation," Terrell said.

Stebbins also contributed to the city in other ways, including his involvement with the Carroll Education Foundation.

A bronze statue in Rustin Park at Town Square that depicts a father tying a son's shoelaces was put up in his honor last year.

Stebbins left behind plans that call for development of 25 more acres, including the addition of at least one high-end department store and more residential options.

"Fortunately, he put such a great foundation in place, and his vision was far into the future, so his vision is still there," said Terrell.

Stebbins is survived by his wife, Pattie; a son; a daughter; his mother and his sister.

Stebbins' vision

  • The Southlake Town Square master plan covers 130 acres.
  • The development today comprises about 1.4 million square feet, a little less than half the size of full build-out, estimated at about 3.2 million square feet.
  • The master plan calls for more residential development, including the Garden District condominiums and a High Street Retail District that would include at least one high-end department store, along with luxury and specialty retail.