With a proposal being floated for a new arena plus a mall in downtown Phoenix, here are some photos that show retail in downtown's heyday, when it was the largest retail center in Arizona:
Note the features: Stores right up on the sidewalk facing the street; shade awnings; a mix of local and national retailers; life on the street, and every few steps a new doorway beckons to shoppers. This is what downtown Phoenix once had and let get away.
It represents a totally different experience from a suburban mall, and that's what draws shoppers to the downtowns such as Seattle and San Francisco that kept their retail.
Arizona Center, built facing in and away from the street, is the cautionary tale. Too suburban. People will choose to stay in the real suburbs.
Cities that lost their downtown retail almost never get it back. One example is Charlotte, for all its prosperity and workers and residents downtown. San Diego is the exception and it involved a mall. But Horton Plaza was wedged into the edge of the dense Gaslamp Quarter and became an organic part of a walking downtown, where more retail was added in refurbished buildings.