STEDCO speaker talks about downtown revitalization efforts

DONNIE BRYANT donnie.bryant@empiretribune.com
Architect Marcel Quimby spoke at STEDCO's annual meeting and luncheon Tuesday to give insight into furthering downtown Stephenville's revitalization. DONNIE BRYANT/E-T

Area business leaders were granted expert insight from preservation architect Marcel Quimby Tuesday at the Stephenville Economic Development Foundation's annual meeting. The Dallas-based architect has been instrumental in revitalization projects across Texas and shared a wealth of information and strategies that can be employed by the community in its own bid to breathe new life into Stephenville's downtown area.

Mayor Kenny Weldon in introducing Quimby to the group stressed the importance of placing value upon the historic structures surrounding the courthouse and dotted along the downtown streets.

“The challenge is to lead Stephenville to preserve its uniqueness and value,” Weldon said. “We are a community of friendly, hardworking people. And we have a tremendous amount of assets and opportunities awaiting us.”

Despite the myriad of building codes and permits that attach themselves to the renovation experience, Weldon was firm in his conviction the preservation and utilization of older structures will have a positive influence on the collective psyche of the city as well as on the economy.

“Revitalization is not about fixing old buildings or making money,” Weldon said. “It's about the heart and soul of Stephenville.”

Quimby shared her knowledge of the benefits of revitalizing the historic areas of town. She cited an improvement in the quality of life, a sense of place and belonging, and the strengthening of adjacent neighborhoods as being some of the pivotal results of revitalization in conjunction with the economic boon that follows such a community move.

Bringing the Texas downtown hotspots of Granbury and Grape Vine to mind, Quimby offered encouragement to the audience with one caveat.

“They didn't look the way they do now 30 years ago,” she said. “It took a generation to get them to that place. There is no immediate return.”

The city and STEDCO have pledged their support as Stephenville plots its own vision for a renaissance of the downtown area.

Weldon advised the group it is a dream that will require a great deal of hard work.

“We will need to devise a strategy and organize ourselves to achieve it,” he said.