The Economist explains why downtown renewal is a fool's errand. Governments can, of course, spend enough and put a man on the moon. But there are many more downtown boosters than there are space travel supporters.
Left alone, private developers create "lifestyle centers" by the thousands that fulfill the functions of centers -- and have eclipsed the downtown. If there is going to be a main urban center, it will not be as dominant as downtown interests dream about. Markets are signalling the nature of the best forms of development for the auto-oriented world.
The examples cited in the article show that market signals in this realm cannot be ignored.