I believe this bashing downtown as a target for angst over a changing Tucson and a loss of the "local culture" is misdirected. It's a great example of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face, in that you say you love downtown but are apparently abandoning it despite the fact that the problem is not downtown itself.
The majority of the loss of local culture has instead been caused by the last few decades of Tucson's suburban explosion. It's amazing that you all are attacking downtown for a supposed "develop for the sake of development" attitude but have probably been silent as the entire city took that attitude as it spread uncontrollably laying down carbon copy subdivisions and concrete coated strip malls in its wake. This 200+ square mile suburban wasteland draws in new residents that desire that sort of lifestyle and who absolutely hate "downtown" type areas because they are not all the same. These are the folks who would rather see a Dave and Busters or a Old Spaghetti Factory rather than a Playground or a 47 Scott.
Therefore yes Tucson as a city has a gradually degrading local culture thanks to this sprawl. To focus on downtown as if it is the problem is backwards.
In fact, not seeing that type of business flooding downtown is a good sign that there is still a vibrant local culture to Tucson's downtown. It is still financially sustainable to be different, and that's an amazing thing.
So the problem isn't a lack of local culture downtown. What then? I can only guess the problem might be that it's not your culture. I hear that from many of you when you say that you don't like it because it's full of "Frat boys" now. Not only is this hyperbole, it shows that you are focusing in on the few things that bother you as an easy target for an overall feeling of no longer fitting in. It's no longer sleepy, cozy, and quiet and that doesn't meld with your jive. This doesn't mean it no longer has culture. It is just that it is growing a new culture and perhaps leaving you behind.
What's also hyperbole is the suggestion that every old place with character downtown has closed. There is still a lot of the old holdovers, and they will do well with the new street car traffic and downtown events. Heck, even the District Tavern was busy the other night when I was down there for Second Saturdays. I didn't hear the owner complaining any more...
And again, an exaggeration that it's suddenly all too pricey. I read someone that mentioned coffee, saying that at least there's still Bruggers. Have you tried Sparkroot? It's no McDonald's $1 all day coffee but still, $2 for a fresh cup isn't exactly bank breaking. And at $6 their sandwiches are in the range of Subway but taste way, way better.
So what I think is happening with this "movement" or phenomenon or whatever of tearing down downtown is that people are reacting to an overall change in Tucson in the last decade but are aiming their vitriol at downtown without really giving it a chance. They are dismissing it offhand not because it's bad, but just because it's different.
It's OK though, as you are the vocal minority. I've been enjoying what downtown offers since I moved here ten years ago and will continue to do so more every year as it grows in to a mature, vibrant community.
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