There are good ideas, and there are not-so-good ideas. Uniting the varied group of merchants along Victoria’s Humboldt Street into an association and marketing the area as a defined downtown shopping neighbourhood was a good idea. Having a fun-packed street festival to attract visitors to the area was a great idea. Naming that district the “Humboldt Valley,” though, struck me as a bit weird. What mountains, what river, what valley?
But enough of my literalist grumbling. The name is set, and the bright pink banners proclaiming its boundaries are fluttering along Humboldt from Government Street to Blanshard. What’s important is that this appealing commercial-and-residential neighbourhood—blending sleek new architecture with the classic heritage buildings of St. Ann’s Academy and the Church of our Lord (circa 1876)—offers some enticing downtown distractions. I recently enjoyed a spectacular view of whole beautifully redeveloped area from the penthouse lounge atop the new Parkside Victoria Resort, whose south decks overlook St. Ann’s walled orchard and the lushly wooded Beacon Hill Park.
Back in August 2010, the first Humboldt Valley Summer Festival provided ample reason to explore the area’s gift shops and galleries, spas, cafes, and restaurants. From mid-morning to early evening, visitors enjoyed food, music, song, art, and theatre on Humboldt Street. Most enjoyable was the chance to observe 18 local artists, from painters to sculptors, working en plein air throughout the day. The event was a grand success, and is sure to be repeated in 2011.
The chic Aria, Belvedere, and Astoria condominium developments have given shape to the new Humboldt Valley district, introducing ground-floor retail space into their residential properties. (If you’re thinking of moving in, a 604-sq-ft suite—1 bed, 1 bath—recently sold in the Astoria for $319,000; an 868-sq-ft suite—2 bed, 2 bath—for $519,000). Winchester Galleries, which has outlets in the Belvedere and the Astoria, is working on an installation of six outdoor sculptures in the 700-block of Humboldt. The “sculpture walk” will encourage visitors to stroll the street from one artwork to the next—and one participating Humboldt Valley merchant to the next. Another terrific idea.
Clearly, there are some clever minds behind this enterprise. And you know, I enjoyed the Humboldt summer street fair so much, I’m even coming around on the “Valley” name. :)
Members of the new Humboldt Valley Merchants Association [as of Aug. 12, 2010].
- 5 Star Whale Watching
- Armeni Jewellers
- Brown’s Social House
- Budget Car and Truck Rental
- Café Mela at the Belvedere
- Church of our Lord
- Executive House Hotel
- Fairmont Empress Hotel and Willow Stream Spa
- Kiva Design
- Macdonald Realty Victoria
- Miniature World
- Nootka Traders
- Pescatore’s Fish House and Oyster Bar
- Roger’s Chocolates Soda Shoppe
- Scala Boutique
- Side Street Studio
- Sotheby’s Realty Victoria
- The Sky is the Limit Design
- Union Club of B.C.
- Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour
- Winchester Galleries