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

The floor of the house on April 11, 2019. (Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune)
Houston-area lawmakers urge DA to investigate possible 'non-existent' March primary candidate

Nearly the entire Harris County Democratic legislative delegation has asked the county attorney and district attorney to open a criminal investigation into the candidacy of a Texas House candidate whose existence was called into question after this year’s March election.

Students can now drop courses until May 1. (Danica Smithwick/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College moves drop date, refunds for students to May 1

Students now have until May 1 to drop Lone Star College courses and receive a refund.

Houston City Council could soon consider an ordinance to require all hotel and motel operators to adopt human trafficking prevention training for all of their employees. (Courtesy Pexels)
Proposed Houston ordinance would require anti-human trafficking training for all hotel workers

If adopted, Houston would be only the second city in the nation to adopt such a requirement.

All city of Houston parks are closed through Easter weekend to curb the spread of coronavirus. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
Following Harris County, all city of Houston parks closed for Easter weekend, April 9-13

Mayor Turner said the decision was spurred by the fact the city of Houston reported 615 new positive coronavirus cases April 9, the highest jump to date.

As new resources become available for small business owners, there is hope for some small business owners. (Courtesy Pexels)
Small business owners: How are you getting through this? Have you applied for loans? Considering furloughs? We want to hear from you

Community Impact Newspaper is checking in with businesses to learn about their experience requesting and receiving aid, as well as other ways they are handling the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Harris County Homeless Outreach Team is providing homeless individuals with hand sanitizer, face masks and information sheets on the coronavirus. (Courtesy Harris County Sheriff's Office)
Harris County's Homeless Outreach Team spreads coronavirus awareness, distributes essential supplies to vulnerable populations

On the frontlines of one of the county’s most vulnerable populations, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office’s Homeless Outreach Team is spreading awareness and providing essential supplies to homeless populations amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Affordable Counseling Collaborative Associates offers various kinds of therapy, including family and child therapy. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston-based Affordable Counseling Collaborative Associates offers online counseling during coronavirus outbreak

“We don’t come at them like, ‘We’re gonna tell you how to live your life,’” therapist Tracy Morris said. “It’s far more about helping them find the strength even when they feel like they don’t have any.”

Montgomery County commissioners met for an emergency court session April 8 in Conroe. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County extends disaster declaration, provides additional emergency management funding

County commissioners met for an emergency court session April 8 to discuss the county's coronavirus response.

The Texas Workforce Commission's phone and online systems have been overwhelmed as measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus continue to have a crippling effect on the economy. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More Texans have filed for unemployment in past three weeks than in all of 2019

For the second week in a row, more than 6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, according to federal data.

Hospitals in the Greater Houston area are adapting to accommodate a surge of coronavirus cases. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Report offers first glimpse at hospital readiness across Houston area

Hospitals within the Texas Medical Center system in the Greater Houston area have plans in place to increase the number of ICU beds available by as much as 80%.

Dr. Campbell talks about the effect of the coronavirus on mental health.(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Kelsey-Seybold doctor talks about mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic

Dr. Stefanie Campbell discusses the coronavirus’ effect on mental illness.

Texas Central claims the $12 billion construction process would be privately funded, and the train would transport 6 million annual riders by 2029. (Courtesy Texas Central Partners/Community Impact Newspaper)
State legislators request federal officials halt activity on Texas Central's high-speed rail project

Dozens of elected officials representing Texas requested the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao put an end to activity related to Texas Central’s high-speed rail project between Dallas and Houston.