I like the way that downtown is developing organically, with shops and restaurants along Beach Drive and Central Avenue. However, I think downtown needs a true retail core - like Salt Lake City's new City Creek, Seattle's 5th Avenue/Pacific Place district or San Francisco's Union Square. Beach Drive, though a prestigious address, is not long enough to develop a significant amount of retail (unless there is significant redevelopment of the blocks north of 5th Avenue N). Central Avenue is developing into the premier urban corridor of the Tampa Bay region, but will likely not be the destination for major national (luxury) retailers like the Michigan Avenues, Madison Avenues, Newbury Streets and Lincoln Roads of the country.
Pacific Place, Seattle, WA
What we need is a "retail core". This is retail clustered together in several centers over several contiguous blocks - not necessarily on one street - creating a district and not just a corridor. The redevelopment of BayWalk, the revived interest in developing the Tropicana block, and retail in the base of the Midcore Garage - all combined would make a nice retail core for downtown St. Pete. Now if only Universal Healthcare would relocate out of the central core parking garage into a new building downtown, that would open that space back up for a true anchor, like Saks!