Victoria’s downtown has endless potential, and there are many people who look at the empty buildings and imagine the possibilities that would benefit their business concepts and the city’s economic strength.

On a recent weekday, a group of people toured some of the structures downtown available for sale or lease, and they used their imaginations.

Roland and Melinda Rodriguez, who own RCR Homes, a remodeling and homebuilding company, were among more than 50 people who explored the possibilities in the properties sitting idle downtown. They participated in the “Imagine the Possibilities Tour,” hosted by the Victoria Main Street Program, that showcased 10 downtown buildings for lease or sale.

As a way to stir up interest among developers, future property owners or business investors, the tour through downtown was a good strategic move. Many in that tour group had ideas, and the close-up building inspections gave their plans momentum – hopefully enough to help forge their ideas into reality.

“We’re looking at the possibility of building something or purchasing something in the downtown area,” Roland Rodriguez said. “It’s kind of where Victoria started. As a homebuilder, it’s really cool to think, ‘This is where I work, and this is where Victoria started.’ What better way to build homes than have an office where Victoria originally started?”

Lauren Wall, a University of Houston-Victoria student, was also in the tour. She hopes to one day open a private counseling practice in one of the historic buildings downtown with her office space on the main floor and living area upstairs.

“I don’t know. I might buy. It’s a possibility. Who knows?” Wall said.

At one time, downtown was full of various retail stores, the bustling, beating economic heart of an expanding Victoria.

But that pulse has lost some of its strength over time despite Victoria business owners – such as Torin Bales – who have poured their heart and money into restoring some buildings.

He and others have said a lack of economic incentives from the city has hindered attempts at revitalization.

Still, there are people willing to take a chance.

Bill Wendlandt, a Victoria developer, is in the process of purchasing the old Victoria Hardware Co.’s historic building at 221 S. Main St. Built in 1920, the structure was once home to 77901 Wine Bar.

Wendlandt’s plan to lease the 12,000-square-foot building is an investment into way more than the future of downtown – it’s an investment in the city as a whole.

His leadership along with the efforts of all entrepreneurs who have tried to improve downtown deserves high praise.

Such possibilities must remain a priority for all stakeholders. That’s why the Victoria Main Street Program should continue its campaign to bring buildings and potential buyers together.

Victoria’s downtown is worth the investment.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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