Today's LA Times includes several articles on "Mall Talk". The best is by Virginia Postrel, "City lite: Shopping centers are fulfilling their destiny, not as escapes from the city but as places to experience urban pleasures."
She notes that many highbrow critics of the likes of Universal CityWalk (in L.A.) had gotten it all wrong. No surprise there.
An when it comes to catering to people's desires to meet in settings that offer commerce and security (the main reasons they pay to be in cities) private providers do it best. No surprise there either.
Public sector planners go on and on about "the need for open space" -- and about their unique ability to provide it. But they are no match for the private providers.
L.A.'s Rick Caruso and his work are noteworthy examples. (He writes "Listen and they will come" in the same section.)
We somehow get the open spaces we want in spite of, and not because of, the prominent public sector actors.