An old-town feel that many North Texas cities are trying to build is something officials in Denton are trying to preserve -- and they're one step closer to making it happen.
At a city council work session, an agreement was reached on certain design standards for the Denton Square. The goal is to keep the city's historic flavor intact.
John Cartwright is the owner of Cartwright's Ranch House, a downtown restaurant. Unlike many business owners there, he also owns the building where his restaurant is located. As president of the Denton Main Street Association, he has also attended several meetings with city officials to discuss building standards for the area.
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"We want to be culturally preservative, but we also want to step outside the box to draw attention to ourselves," Cartwright said. "Are there limits to that? Sure. We need to have that discussion."
Cartwright said he supported Denton's attempts to keep downtown what it is, and credited the city for seeking input from stakeholders.
"We've found overwhelming support for what we're doing with the square," said Scott McDonald, city director of development services.
McDonald and others at Denton City Hall started to look into downtown building standards after a 2017 fire which leveled the Downtown Mini Mall. They realized the city really did not have strong standards in place for what could be built downtown.
"Something is going to be built there one day," Cartwright said of the vacant spot, which sits across the square from his business. "We need to have a discussion about what are we going to allow to be built there. Can a skyscraper be built there?"
Not so, under new guidelines which, if approved, would limit the size of new buildings and make sure the architecture fits downtown's character. The plan, which is likely to be voted on by the city council next month, sets standards, but is flexible enough to fit the needs of property owners, according to the city.
"Denton especially, being a very diverse community, has many different competing ideas," McDonald said. "Some might say we're a historic community. Others might say we're an arts community. So it is a challenge."
While many cities try to replicate an old-town feel, Denton hopes to preserve what it already has.
"We all have a vested interest," Cartwright said. "To keep it the way it is."