Additional retail options, the preservation of historical identity and better access to parking were among the top priorities voiced by Humble residents during a March 24 public meeting held in advance of the city’s planned downtown improvement project.

The idea to redevelop downtown Humble began in 2014, and the city held its first workshop to discuss revitalization efforts in January 2020. However, officials said the COVID-19 pandemic halted those efforts.

In November, Humble City Council members approved an agreement with the Texas Downtown Association to assess the city’s downtown area and provide recommendations for improvements.

According to Humble Mayor Norman Funderburk, revitalizing the city’s downtown area will be among the city’s top priorities over the next few years.

“Our downtown is important to us,” Funderburk said. “We’ve talked about retaining and nurturing that small-town feel that's so important to us. A big part of that is retaining the charm of our downtown.”

Stephanie Wiggins, chief economic development officer for local chamber of commerce Partnership Lake Houston, said she believed improving Humble’s downtown area could help attract additional businesses to the city.

“I believe these efforts will only improve our ability to attract businesses to the area,” Wiggins said. “Having more retail, lodging and hospitality [options] in our downtown area only makes it more attractive to businesses looking to locate in the Lake Houston area, particularly within Humble.”

Several residents at the meeting stressed the need for additional retail options in the downtown area.

“I remember as a kid growing up when Main Street was the shopping destination for Humble,” Humble Police Department Chief Ken Theis said. “I would like to see the development come back to something like that to ... where there would be more locals on the Main Street area as well as more visitors.”

Bea Emanuel-Sims, owner of Sweet Granny Bea’s on First Street, said she believed the downtown area could be connected more efficiently to reduce the need to drive from one destination to the next.

“You go here, then you drive, and you go here, then you drive,” Emanuel-Sims said. “I think if it were all connected to where you could say, ‘Oh, if I walk a block this way, I could go here,’ or ‘If I walk a block that way, I could go there,’ it would be much more seamless.”

Additionally, several attendees cited a lack of parking options as a targeted area of improvement. City officials said most streets in the downtown area, such as Main Street and Higgins Street, have around nine parking spaces on each side of the street per block.

Officials with the Texas Downtown Association said the assessment will likely be completed and returned to the Humble City Council by the end of May. Once completed, officials said they will use the assessment to map out a concrete plan for improvements.