When one walks past the stately old convent on Church Street, it’s easy to imagine the historic building taking on some new function—a boutique hotel, perhaps, or a mixed residential/retail space—that preserves and pays respect to the history of the iconic downtown structure.
“It’s a beautiful building,” said Danielle Williams, executive director of the Victoria Main Street Program. “There’s been a lot of buzz about the convent from investors and stakeholders since it’s been on the market, and we want to make sure we preserve the historical value of what we have.”
When the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament decided to sell the building that’s affectionately known as the “Old Convent,” the Main Street Program reached out to the Texas Historical Commission’s Town Square Initiative to complete a feasibility study of the building.
TSI came back with an overview of possible uses for the building—including a hotel, a public meeting space, office space and lofts—and other useful information for developers. Like many historic buildings, the Old Convent would be costly to renovate, but historic tax credits and strategic public-private partnerships could be used to help offset the cost. The feasibility study puts the City in a better position to market the building and create a suitable investment strategy for the project.
Promoting Victoria’s downtown is one of the priorities of Plan 2035. The Main Street Program is working to build a comprehensive vision for downtown by drafting a master plan, which will serve as a road map for downtown development and ensure that the Old Convent and other vacant buildings are used in a way that aligns with what residents would like to see downtown.
“A master plan will help to attract developers by providing a clear outlook and predictability,” said Assistant City Manager Mike Etienne. “The development of historic structures like the Old Convent is central to building the identity of Victoria’s downtown, and we look forward to helping the downtown area realize its full potential.”