Losing Our Identity? Tomball Considers Ways To Preserve Historic Vibe

In hopes of preserving our historic town’s old time feel, Tomball City Council is considering adopting a brick facade requirement for new construction along FM 2920 outside of the eight-block Old Town Tomball area.

Harold Ellis, a Tomball City Planner, explained, “The idea of potentially establishing minimum building facade standards on Main Street outside of Old Town and the mixed-use zoning district—where we currently do have building facade requirements—came up. The Old Town and mixed-use zoning district is the only area in the city where we do have building facade requirements.”

Main Street Crossing, Tomball’s popular event venue, features beautiful brick construction.

In addition to preserving Tomball’s old fashioned look and feel, brick facades have the added benefit of improving property value. Plus, they look nice for longer (some having a lifespan of over 100 years), and tend to attract more upscale investors, builders, and businesses to the area.

Many of Tomball’s historic architecture is comprised of old fashioned farmhouses.

“Design standards will create coherence,” added Stephen Fox, a historian at Rice University’s School of Architecture. “Towns lose their sense of place and identity when businesses gravitate to highways,”

However, much of Tomball’s original construction and architecture is comprised of beautiful old farmhouses without a single brick on them. Many boast old fashioned woodwork, ornate handcrafted windows, and personalized architectural features which hearkens back to a bygone era when carpenters and woodworkers made every porch railing and window frame an art piece. Creating coherency while still making construction practical will be a bit of a balancing act.

Around 200 Texas cities, including Richmond and Manvel, have implemented and recently expanded facade requirements for new construction.

Market Street in The Woodlands features beautiful brick and stone construction, and some of the most upscale shopping in the Houston area.

“Cities that adopt the overlay districts quite often extend the overlays very quickly to go citywide, and these types of implementations have their best impact if implemented before the development happens,” said Tony Topping, relations specialist for Houston’s Texas Masonry Council. “If you wait until afterward, you may have little control over what is built. Tomball is growing and it won’t be small for long. Other cities have done this before the growth hit.”

Tomball City Council Member Chad Degges explained things from an investment standpoint.

“When you go to invest in a building, you look at your neighbors,” he said.

Implementing higher standards is hoped to attract more upscale investors, raising the value of Tomball property, which would benefit current residents and business owners alike.

Do you agree? What are some other ways YOU think Tomball should preserve it’s heritage? Comment below!

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