First downtown Humble revitalization workshop sparks inspiration, ideas

The city of Humble was established in 1886 by Pleasant Smith Humble, and it quickly became known as an oil industry haven. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)
The city of Humble was established in 1886 by Pleasant Smith Humble, and it quickly became known as an oil industry haven. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Humble was established in 1886 by Pleasant Smith Humble, and it quickly became known as an oil industry haven. (Kelly Schafler/Community Impact Newspaper)

The first workshop to discuss revitalizing the city of Humble’s downtown attracted local residents, business owners and leaders of nearby communities to the Humble Civic Center on Jan. 9.

The city invited three officials to share their experiences with downtown economic growth, including Shad Comeaux, the project manager at Freese and Nichols; Mike Baxter, the director of marketing and tourism with the city of Tomball; and Brett Banfield, the president of the Friends of Downtown Friendswood Association.

During the meeting, several Humble officials, business owners and residents stressed the importance of maintaining Humble's charm and history while also moving forward and growing the area.

Lee Kendrick, the owner of Lamp Monkey in Humble, said as a business owner, he wants Humble to become a destination. However, he said business owners should also focus on preserving the history of the area—much like Green Oaks Tavern, which used to be a jailhouse.

"So people want the preservation of all the old stuff, they just want it repurposed in in a way that they can use it now," Kendrick said. "Humble has such a history and a great story, but we're just not telling it."


The city of Tomball has been able to increase tourism while respecting the city's history, Baxter said. The city of Tomball has grown its tourism over the last roughly 10 years by bringing more festivals and events to the area, creating a mascot with historical significance and establishing a branding campaign, he said.

"We've increased awareness of Tomball regionally as a place to live and work; we've increased sales at our downtown businesses and brought new businesses to downtown," Baxter said. "The festivals and events are continuing to be just an incredible marketing tool for us to get people to come out and try us one time, and then they come back."

Another way to spur growth in downtown areas is to encourage the live, work and play environment by constructing housing that allows Millennials as well as retirees to walk and patron downtown businesses, Comeaux said. He suggested the city could also actively work to encourage more local businesses to open in downtown to retain the uniqueness of the area.

"A lot of communities are looking at their downtown areas where you have that walkable environment already created, and then you can start adding some elements, such as housing," Comeaux said. "The type of housing is very important, because it's not just, you know, single family homes, but they're looking for the density there. So if you can create that area within downtown where you have your density—the residential—[and] it's a walkable environment, then people are start to ... [and] businesses start to attract to that."

The three speakers cited various potential sources for funding downtown improvement projects, including creating a downtown association that functions as a nonprofit, creating a tax increment reinvestment zone for downtown, raising the city's sales tax or applying for grant funding.

For example, the Friends of Downtown Friendswood Association, which is a nonprofit, was able to invest in Friendswood's downtown by narrowly getting the majority voter approval on a sales tax increase election in 2016, Banfield said. While the sales tax election was followed by lawsuits from local residents who opposed the increase, Banfield said the funds have allowed the association to commission several murals that beautify Friendswood and host community events such as an ice cream social as well as music festivals.

After the meeting, Humble City Manager Jason Stuebe said while he does not believe Humble residents would support a sales tax increase, he said creating a TIRZ—which would collect dollars from a set zone to fund projects in the zone—is a future option for the city.

"I think TIRZ is on the table, quite frankly, and it's something that I think we seriously need to look at," Stuebe said. "I don't know that anybody would be absolutely opposed to that, but these are the types of conversations we need to have with the businesses and say, 'Would you support this?'"

Stuebe said the next step will be the city scheduling meetings with downtown business owners and residents to discuss what they would like downtown Humble to become. He said the city can then begin tackling “low-hanging fruits,” or projects and events that are fairly inexpensive and simple to organize.

“We're just going to start doing some of these low-hanging fruit stuff, you know, and just looking at some of these different options,” Stuebe said. “What we can afford now, we'll do, and what we need to budget for, we’ll budget for next year. ... I think everybody saw what the potential could be, and that there's a framework on how to do it.”
By Kelly Schafler

Editor, Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood

Kelly Schafler is the editor for the Lake Houston, Humble and Kingwood edition of Community Impact Newspaper, covering public education, city government, development, businesses, local events and all things community-related. Before she became editor, she was the reporter for the Conroe and Montgomery edition for a year and a half.



MOST RECENT

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29. (Community Impact staff)
Texas Medical Center sees another week-over-week decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Texas Medical Center continued to see week-over-week decreases in the total number of active COVID-19 hospitalizations but also saw a significant increase in patient deaths, the medical center reported May 29.

The Willie's Grill & Icehouse restaurant in Copperfield is temporarily closed after reopening in mid-May. (Courtesy Willie's Grill & Icehouse Copperfield)
Study predicts coronavirus spike and other top Houston-area stories

Read some of the most popular Houston-area content on Community Impact Newspaper’s website from this week.

The syrup drums being repurposed into rain barrels were donated from Coca-Cola. (Courtesy Galveston Bay Foundation)
Galveston Bay Foundation to host virtual, drive-thru rain barrel workshop

The Kemah-based nature conservation nonprofit is hosting a rain barrel workshop this weekend for Houstonians thirsting for a way to help conserve the community’s water supply.

The Texas Renaissance Festival is set to resume Oct. 3 with safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (Courtesy Texas Renaissance Festival)
Texas Renaissance Festival announces tentative modifications for 2020 season

In a May 28 statement, General Manager Joseph Bailey said new safety measures are in the works to comply with governmental recommendations, and an operating plan is expected to be reviewed with officials in June.

Riva Row Boat House
GALLERY: Restrictions in Montgomery County easing, but residents remain cautious

Click through this photo gallery to see how residents are slowly adapting to life during a pandemic.

The death total in Harris County now stands at 221. With 11,770 cases confirmed in the county, the death rate stands at 1.9%. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 1 new death confirmed May 28, 8 deaths over past 7 days

By comparison, 23 deaths were confirmed between May 16-22, and 39 deaths were confirmed between May 9-15.

Lone Star College plans to partially open 26 buildings beginning June 1. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College System discusses reopening plan for June 1

Lone Star College plans to partially open 26 of its buildings June 1, prioritizing health science buildings.

Texas Supreme Court rejects push to expand voting by mail during coronavirus

However, Supreme Court justices also said voters can determine for themselves whether or not they are disabled, and local election officials are not obligated to verify those applicants' claims.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

RC’s NYC Pizza & Pasta in New Caney permanently closed May 17. (Courtesy RC's NYC Pizza & Pasta)
RC's NYC Pizza & Pasta in New Caney permanently closes

RC’s NYC Pizza & Pasta, located at 21572 Market Place Drive, Ste. 100, New Caney, permanently closed May 17.