An Urban planner, without Urban Renewal funds, might very well ask: "Ok, the citizens rejected large-scale new development and redevelopment. Basically, it's too expensive, and the social cost is too high. But if that isn't the model for revitalization, what is?"
Essentially, a downtown is a garden. But, it isn't a garden meant to impress the neighbors. It is a garden meant to nurture a complete ecology. It enables life. It's a healthy garden, a part of nature.
What Urban planners do today, is bulldoze ecologies to create flashy new sterile gardens, with big expensive plants and no other life, at the public's expense. They do this for very unnatural reasons -- to support upward distribution of wealth.
In creating a healthy ecology, you don't dig up the plants and try to relocate them all the time ... you try to help the plants you have, and you preserve the healthy clusters and matrices of life that are part of their existence. You find the patches that need help, and you nuture them back to life. It is efficient to work in this way, building upon what you already have. The more work like this you do, the more life it attracts.
This is exactly analogous to a downtown. If you want to help bring something back to life, you start with the people who come downtown, and you provide more for them. You provide more for those who do not come. You don't disrupt anything: harm no existing buisiness, building, organization, event or demographic. In fact, do what you can to help them: help them do more of what they already do. Then the ecology you already have, will thrive.