Originally Posted by miketoronto
They have failed because of massive decentralization.
For your downtown to come back, you have to have reasons for people to be there.
This hits in perfectly. An attempt (governmental or private) to rebuild a substantial downtown area is going to fail unless there is a good reason to go there. Typically, the ones that succeed do so because of something that is reasonably identifiable (commuting becomes too long, prices get so low as to be attractive, adjacent areas get too expensive) leading some movement in the first place. Helping this along with flexible conversion laws, good transit, improved schools and street safety, etc., is what the city can do.
What this warns against is trying to unilaterally subsidize housing, putting cute flower pots downtown or handing over money to developers (on the "build it and they will come" theory).