WALK WITH US for a moment on the dark side of downtown, 2020: a downtown choked in bus traffic and exhaust fumes, a downtown where pedestrians routinely burrow through underground walkways to avoid the filthy, gridlocked streets. In this future downtown, there are no tree-lined boulevards, no sidewalk cafe. All of the prestigious office addresses are in the newer, cleaner, greener business parks in the suburbs. The property owners who remain have staked For Sale signs in front of their run-down skyscrapers. Soon after 6 o’clock, the streets are deserted-except for thousands of homeless people who forage for shelter and food. ? And the decay is spreading. Once-healthy pockets of affluence like Oak Lawn and Highland Park have fallen prey to the residual fallout of a rotting core. Homes are for sale, businesses have faltered, pride is nonexistent. ? The eyes of the international media are trained upon the tarnished image of downtown Dallas-once a symbol of sophistication and determination, now a pathetic parable of defeat. Decision-makers from Tokyo to Caracas view Dallas as a place of the past. ? An absurd doomsday scenario? We’ll be the first to say we sincerely hope so. But reports-greatly exaggerated?-of the death of downtown have been circulating for years. Who’s to say what another thirty years will bring? ? Ironically, our current doldrums offer a perfect interlude to think about what we want downtown Dallas to be and to begin working toward it. Economic recessions offer a respite from go-go growth that is splendid for planning. Of course, merely dreaming of better ways to build vitality into downtown won’t make it happen. But possibilities do spring from dreams.