Victoria obtains provisional status for Main Street Program


Oct. 22, 2010 at 5:22 a.m.

View of Main  and Juan Linn streets in downtown Victoria. The city is on track to be a part of the Main Street Program, designed to bring heart and life back into downtown.

View of Main and Juan Linn streets in downtown Victoria. The city is on track to be a part of the Main Street Program, designed to bring heart and life back into downtown.

The Texas Historic Commission announced Friday that Victoria received provisional status as a Main Street City.

Provisional status allows the Main Street board of directors a year of assistance from the Texas Historical Commission to prepare for full designation in 2011.

The decision is a chance to get preparations in order, said Louise Hull Patillo, acting president for the Victoria Main Street Program's board.

"We would have had to begin today posting for the job for Main Street manager and that person would start Jan. 1," she said Friday. This slows the timeline and gives us a little breathing room to better organize the whole process."

Provisional status might affect funding issues, Hull Patillo said, although she wasn't certain. The city pledged to contribute half - about $65,000 - for the program's first year and the organization would provide the other half through fundraising and other means.

Regardless, things will continue forward.

"We're gonna just keep on keeping on," she said.

The commission was concerned that Victoria did not have an existing non-profit organization in place to run the program, said Brad Patterson, director of community heritage development for the Texas Historical Commission.

"Victoria has the plans under way and the steering committee to establish it, but it's not yet entirely in place," he said, explaining the group did not yet have a non-profit status with the Internal Revenue Service.

It also came to fundraising.

The city pledged its half for the program and, although Victoria's application noted the other half would come from membership fees, pledges, sponsorships and corporate funding, those donations were not yet secured.

"If they came into the program fully this year, I'm not sure they'd be able to hit the ground running," Patterson said. "It's not a lack of interest in the community or effort. It's more just a timing situation."

Competition was tough but Victoria remains in a good position, said Robby Burdge, president of Klean Corp International. Every city that has been named provisional has historically gone into the program the next year.

Victoria has positioned itself well in terms of development, he said, and it's paying off with incoming projects, such as new plants and company expansions.

"There are some baby steps and some large leaps, but we're going forward," he said.

The Main Street Program is designed to bring heart and life back into downtown, said Bridgette Bise, executive director of the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"This will give us the opportunity to focus on downtown and develop business and urban life," she said.

The convention and visitors bureau recently decided to locate the Boot Fest, a new festival headed to town in September 2011, downtown, instead of at the Victoria Community Center.

People might be disappointed Victoria didn't receive full status but there's nothing keeping the city from moving forward, Mayor Will Armstrong said.

As for how the provisional status might affect funding from the city, he said he wasn't sure yet but would consult with Hull Patillo.

"I know a majority of the council strongly supports the project and I don't think that support will waiver," he said. "But then again, I'm only one vote."

New life is already evident downtown, Armstrong said.

"I've seen a lot more activity than we've had in a long, long time," he said.

Victoria County Judge Don Pozzi agreed progress continues, noting updates to sewer and water mains, new businesses and paving projects.

Although it's mainly the city and other individuals working on the program, the county supports the project.

"Obviously any revitalization we certainly hope will draw people downtown countywide," he said.

Victoria Chamber of Commerce President Randy Vivian said the decision was good news for Victoria.

"This gives us a good leg up," he said. "We're going to be able to utilize a lot of the state's resources in planning and moving forward."

The historical commission is willing to work with Victoria on its application throughout the year, with the goal of getting the city into the program in 2012 if the city chooses to accept the provisional status and reapply, he said.

"We hope they say yes," he said. "Even if it's provisional, we'd like to welcome them into the program and be able to work with them."



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