I live in a medium city. When I was growing up, the downtown was a lively place with some nice restaurants and a “fancy” five story department store, a library in a beautiful old building, a decent repertory cinema showing cool movies, some nice ethnic restaurants in nicer malls, and a small but pretty art museum.
The historic buildings and architecture are still there. But many of the buildings are “for lease” and the department stores, repertory cinema and library are long gone, like many of the upmarket stores. Most of the buildings at the town main intersections are boarded up. Though it does not seem very dangerous, at night a general air of desperation becomes a little worse. It used to be quite nice - though few lived downtown. It still has some pleasant parks and river views. There are some nice summer festivals, though most of them seem very similar, somehow.
Other nearby downtowns have convinced people to live there once they restored “old factory” buildings and made them into attractive condos. This led to pleasant markets, grocers, restaurants and other services. In my town, people seem more interested in building student apartments for a population that may be more on-line than in-person, and that would often prefer houses to boxes anyway.
But just as often, maybe more so, the new malls and big boxes are built on the outskirts of town. And people, ultimately, do not yet want to live downtown where there are fewer general services (though perhaps enough coffee shops, pubs, tattoo parlours and head shops).
Our downtown still has attractive parks and one strip popular with students and business people. But this too is looking worn, even before this disastrous COVID year which has hit most people hard. Some decisions about construction, bike lanes, busses and parking have also proved controversial.
So - what is your downtown like? Getting more pleasant or less? Why - what changes did they make, or what changed do they need to?