Downtown’s recent Weekend of the Arts was a great example of the good things that can happen when different groups work together for the good of downtown.
For the first time, our downtown art walk joined forces with the Victoria Fine Arts Association to host a combined art and music walk. This walk was the busiest and most well-attended that we’ve ever had. The Viva Texas Film Festival had a great turnout as well, with hundreds of people attending throughout the weekend.
These types of activities give a critical boost to the business scene by encouraging businesses to stay open. Many of our restaurants and other businesses offer extended hours during these events, and the businesses owners look forward to the opportunity to host increased traffic. Improving one aspect of downtown (entertainment, for example) doesn’t just help that one area; it helps downtown as a whole.
Another great example of the power of partnership is the recent downtown crosswalk art project. We partnered with the Victoria Fine Arts Association, Free Art Victoria and local sponsors to paint nine crosswalks. It was such a success that we are planning to host a crosswalk art workshop to help other cities implement similar programs. We are hoping to eventually paint even more crosswalks in collaboration with our partners.
As various types of businesses set up shop downtown, public-private partnerships with them can be a great asset too. We’re already making plans for the Christmas season (yes, really), and we’re partnering with Mother Cluckers Market, which is opening up a brick-and-mortar location downtown, so that they can host the market portion of Christmas on the Square. Spots are already filling up, so contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to host a booth Dec. 2!
At the request of some of our business owners, we’ve started hosting a monthly meeting called the Main Street Meetup where stakeholders can discuss their plans and possible opportunities for collaboration. We’re all looking forward to Día de los Muertos, and we’ve had some productive discussions about how we can coordinate during that time.
Of course, the Victoria Main Street Program is working on programs and policies that will help our downtown thrive even more. We’re pursuing cultural district and entertainment district designations for parts of downtown. I’ve spoken with developers and entrepreneurs who are interested in these special districts, so I know that these designations will encourage development and economic activity.
The new downtown tax increment reinvestment zone is another tool that we expect will attract new development based on its success in other communities. The program gives developers confidence that their property taxes will be reinvested in the area where they do business.
As always, we are guided by the goals and strategies set forth in the downtown master plan. One of the low-cost “easy win” goals that we’re exploring is the addition of string lighting, which will encourage people to stay downtown after dark. We’ve been discussing the idea with the company that handles some of our Christmas lighting, and we’re looking forward to flipping the switch.
To stay up to date on everything happening with the Main Street Program, visit www.victoriatx.gov/mainstreet. If you have any questions or want to get involved, you can reach out to my office at 361-485-3120 or email@example.com.
Kate Garcia is the Main Street Program manager for the City of Victoria.