Friday, March 4, 2011
Downtown Denton preserves history in face of future
Currently, the city plans to improve walking space and deal with the city’s biggest issue: parking.
Walking around downtown Denton, viewers can see couples having picnics, people shopping and children begging for ice cream.
Twenty years ago, the Denton Square was 35 percent unoccupied, and as travelers went east and west into downtown, it was 90 percent unoccupied.
Now the Square is almost fully occupied. Almost $40 million has poured into restoring and revitalizing the area, to breathe life to the Square while remembering Denton’s history, said Julie Glover, the Denton economic program administrator.
“My favorite thing about downtown is it’s so charming. It has a little bit of everything,” said Natasha Grau, the Denton County Museum specialist.
The center of the downtown area is the Courthouse-on-the-Square, built in 1896 and restored in 1989, according to the city’s website.
Denton is trying to find a balance between modernizing the area and preserving its history, Glover said.
After restoring the courthouse, Denton became an official main street city and revitalized 90 blocks around the courthouse. This development allowed 1,062 new jobs to become available and led to 241 net business starts, expansions and relocations, according to the city’s website.
“Twenty years ago, not a whole lot was going on. It’s been a major change. Now, you can’t find a place to park,” said Willie Dees, a manager of Recycled Books.
Dees said Recycled Books opened 21 years ago and has seen the Square’s changes.
“I can look around the store and not see anyone I recognize,” he said. “There’s a lot of new people.”
John Heard, the manager of Denton County Independent Hamburger Company, established 33 years ago, said he has also witnessed the restoration and change.
Heard said the Square appeals to a younger demographic.
“The atmosphere on the weekends is family-oriented — lots of kiddos sliding down the courthouse rails,” he said. “At night, it’s a party atmosphere with the bars, and the college kids get to take advantage of that.”
Currently, the city plans to improve walking space and deal with the city’s biggest issue: parking, Heard said.
“Parking, parking, parking and more parking. There’s not enough for customers,” he said. “There’s two-hour parking, but nobody works a two-hour shift.”
Glover said the city plans to add more parking, in addition to the upcoming train station from Denton County Transportation Authority.
“We’re just at the beginning of growth in this area,” Dees said.
The city also plans to improve recycling for businesses to cut down on garbage while creating better solid waste removal, Glover said.
Although the Square has gone through much change, the city wants to reflect its historic heritage, Glover said.
“Downtown is more of a community now than it was in the ‘50s,” she said.
Pegasus News Content partner - North Texas Daily
See more stories in:
- 35 Denton's pop-up venue The Hive will soon be a permanent live music spot
- Restaurant review: Michael's Kitchen makes mediocre meals unlikely to impress or offend
- Chef Tim Love brings fine dining to the Denton Square with Queenie's Steakhouse
- Denton's Bavarian beer house, Gerhard's, gets stamp of approval from German natives
- Restaurant review: J&J's Pizza stands the test of time in Denton