Today's Globe has a story about the challenges facing the city of Worcester as it tries to revive its downtown. Much of the activity in Worcester involves large scale commercial developments but the city's downtown still seems lacking. One city planner quoted in the article says that Worcester needs "the interesting and eclectic mix that will draw people downtown, interest office workers, and eventually get full-time residences there."
It's interesting to compare Worcester as described in the article to Lowell. It seems that Lowell has taken a different approach by converting downtown buildings to residences and shaping many policy decisions to attract artists and other participants in the "creative economy." What Lowell seems to lack is a major employer in the downtown. The presence of office workers during the day would provide additional support to restaurants and retailers who have a tough time making it when relying solely on downtown residents, many of whom depart the city or at least the downtown during the day since their work brings them elsewhere.