PHOTO: A conceptual rendering provided by consulting firm Freese & Nichols as part of the downtown master plan shows string lighting across Main Street, a potential solution for residents’ concerns about inadequate lighting downtown. String lighting was identified in the plan as one of ten low-cost “easy wins” that could help to spur further development.
Residents’ goals for downtown and experts’ advice on achieving them come together in the new downtown master plan that was adopted by the City Council on Oct. 19.
The completed plan is available for viewing at https://www.victoriatx.gov/752/Downtown-Master-Plan.
By the people
Public input is the foundation of this master plan, which includes a summary of findings from the public input process in the chapter titled “Vision & Goals” as well as a comprehensive appendix of survey results and residents’ comments.
From residents’ input, several patterns emerged, such as a desire for more businesses and activities downtown, concerns about parking and a wish for any development to respect and preserve the historic nature of downtown. The master plan uses data, case studies and analysis of resources to offer guidance on how to achieve these and other goals.
Main Street Program Director Danielle Williams thanks the Downtown Advisory Committee stakeholder group and the residents who provided the feedback and support needed to create a master plan that reflects the needs of the community.
Charting a path
The “Implementation” section of the plan outlines specific projects and a potential time frame to start working on them.
Among these, the plan highlights ten “easy wins”—low-cost projects that can be carried out quickly, such as creating a public art program, installing string lights and establishing a series of walking tours—and ten “highest-impact projects”—longer-term initiatives such as redesigning the 5-Points intersection, improving broadband connectivity and facilitating extended hours of operation for businesses. Pursuing both the “easy wins” and the “highest-impact projects” will help to spur development so that other goals can be achieved, according to the plan.
This section is not a definitive agenda; it is simply a guide to potential projects that align with needs identified by residents. Specific items may be changed or adapted as the City moves forward with implementing the plan.
Funding the future
The master plan will give the City a competitive edge in applying for grant funding because it demonstrates that City officials have a strategy for investing grant funds in a way that benefits the community.
In addition to grant funding, the plan outlines possible funding tools and partnerships that can help the City implement the plan without relying on internal funds. For example, business or residential development could be carried out by private developers, with the City helping them to navigate state and federal resources. Other projects, like adding public art, could be carried out with help from local organizations.
Another tool that is being considered is the establishment of a tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ) downtown. When property values increase within a TIRZ, revenue from taxes on the additional value must be reinvested within the same zone. This would encourage development and create a revenue stream dedicated to downtown operations.
Regardless of where the funding comes from, statistics show that downtown development is a valuable investment. In 2019, Main Street America programs (like the Victoria Main Street Program) created 32,316 new jobs and 6,466 new businesses nationwide, with about $30 worth of new investment generated for every dollar spent on the programs.
More master plans
The downtown master plan is one of four master plans being developed this year. The thoroughfare master plan was adopted June 15. The Parks & Recreation master plan will be presented to the City Council for adoption Nov. 16, and the storm drainage master plan will be presented later this year.
For more information about the City’s master planning initiatives, visit www.victoriatx.gov/masterplans. For information about the Victoria Main Street Program, visit www.victoriatx.gov/mainstreet or follow Victoria Main Street Program on Facebook.