The Main Street movement that has taken hold in cities and towns across the country over the last few decades has shown that a community is only as healthy as its core — its downtown. Furthermore, a community’s downtown serves as its face to the rest of the world.
Victoria’s ambiance and mystique are not conveyed by big-box retail stores and shopping malls but rather by the architecture, history and locally-owned businesses found in its lovely downtown. There was a time when downtown Victoria served as the hub of the community, and Crossroads residents could shop in a department store, drug store or hardware store all within walking distance, or even catch the latest films at the Uptown and El Rancho movie theaters.
Victoria is working to revitalize its downtown with the Victoria Main Street Program, which was implemented around 2010. The first director was hired in 2012. The program moved under the umbrella of the city of Victoria in 2019, said Danielle Williams, executive director of the program.
These days, downtown Victoria has continued to see its fair share of activity with business professionals anchoring the area during business hours on weekdays. Restaurants, including Fossati’s Delicatessen, Vela Farms and Huvar’s Artisan Market, offer the weekday workforce and others a variety of lunchtime options.
However, the goal of the Victoria Main Street Program is to activate downtown on weekday evenings and weekends. Williams and others are successfully making headway into doing just that with arts and cultural events, among other initiatives.
For example, the second Downtown Victoria Art Walk hosted by the Victoria Main Street Program on Sept. 10 attracted between 1,200 and 1,500 Crossroads residents to downtown Victoria for an enjoyable evening of art, shopping and dining. A trolley and two buses helped transport attendees between 20-plus venues showcasing the work of more than 50 artists. In June, more than 500 people descended on downtown Victoria for the first art walk.
Williams plans to begin offering Tunes at Noon again in DeLeon Plaza during the lunch hour on the third Wednesday of each month.
Also, between 20 and 30 artists and vendors who set up shop at the Market on Main, which is held every third Saturday during the months of March, April, May, October and November, attract hundreds of shoppers to the downtown area. On Dec. 3, the Market on Main will be held in conjunction with Christmas on the Square. The tree-lighting ceremony will start at 6 p.m., and downtown Victoria will be activated with Christmas-themed inflatables, photo opportunities with Santa Claus, hot cocoa, Christmas cookies, carolers and a petting zoo, among other attractions. The buildings and trees will shine with Christmas lights for all to enjoy. The annual Lighted Christmas Parade is planned for Dec. 4 on Main Street, and the next Downtown Victoria Art Walk is slated for the evening of Dec. 18.
The Victoria Downtown Plan, which has been developed with community input, provides a road-map for downtown development. Williams said community members want to see preservation, more dining and entertainment options, improved parking and public restrooms, among numerous other projects. The Victoria City Council will be briefed on the plan Sept. 21, and the final document will be adopted Oct. 19 at the city council meeting.
Witnessing so many Crossroads residents either discover or rediscover the beauty of Victoria’s historical downtown through events and initiatives is heartening, and we look forward to sharing in the continued growth and success of the heart and soul of our town.