Some stories are so cyclical that we sometimes wonder if we might as well reprint articles from years ago, and see if anybody notices. There are, for example, only two kinds of downtown-Tucson stories: "Downtown in Decline!" and "New Hope for Downtown!"

I guarantee that Margaret Regan wrote this week's feature on the sorry shape of the Downtown Arts District from scratch, but she might as well have pulled a few paragraphs out of the archives. Downtown is in a slump now, it's slumped before, and, no matter how successful Rio Nuevo may become, it will surely slump again.

The best downtown I've visited in a long time thrives in Portland, Ore. It's not just a convention center, not just a government district, not just an arts colony. It's all those things, plus a place with all the old-fashioned downtown mainstays, including drug stores (rather than drug dealers), little markets, and, yes, bars.

Oh, yeah, and frequent, convenient light rail service.

Downtown Tucson could be another Portland someday, but only with an infusion of political courage, community support and a mass of money flooding down the Santa Cruz. Will it happen? Find out in the next news cycle.

More by James Reel

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    • Jul 1, 2010
  • Convinced of Greatness

    Live Theatre Workshop trades laughs for substance with 'The Housekeeper'
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