In 1996, the 130 acres on the northeast corner of East Southlake Boulevard and North Carroll Avenue in Southlake was mostly virgin land.Farm Road 1709, what Southlake Boulevard was called by the locals, was still in the early stages of changing from farm road to busy boulevard.A lot of people in Southlake wanted to keep it and their community unchanged.Many were angry at city officials for allowing a Wal-Mart to be built down the road. It looked cheap, like -- well -- like a Wal-Mart, not fit for the upscale yet "rural-feel" community they had in mind.In stepped Brian Stebbins, who slowly, patiently, politely but persistently worked on a project that would change Southlake's world. Stebbins' dream was to build a mixed-use development on the Southlake Boulevard-Carroll Avenue land, with shops, offices and town-home-style residential living.He had quiet political support among some city leaders -- then-Mayor and now-County Commissioner Gary Fickes, City Manager Curtis Hawk, incoming Mayor Rick Stacy -- and a powerful cast of local residents who were a sort of "Kitchen Cabinet" (some would say good-ol'-boys club) for elected officials.But it was Stebbins who was the unstoppable force. Eventually, he got the necessary approvals for his project, even secured participation from the city in a tax increment financing district that would pay for infrastructure and for a new Town Hall in the middle of the development.The project was Southlake Town Square. As soon as it was built, its rise in popularity was meteoric. Today, it is both upscale shopping district and social scene, a walkable gathering place.Its town home area was the last to be completed, because Southlake residents still had to get used to the idea of anything other than single-family homes.Stebbins, 55, died Tuesday at his home in Southlake.He had a rare neurological disease called frontotemporal degeneration, which causes a slow decline in brain function.A memorial is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Southlake Hilton Hotel -- fittingly, in Southlake Town Square.Southlake owes much of its growth and success to Brian Stebbins.