Anaheim has long performed a juggling act, but for reasons largely beyond its control, two of the balls it kept in the air have fallen to earth in the last few months. Yet despite the indefinite delay of a Disneyland expansion and the departure of the Rams football team, the city is right to press ahead where it can, including continuing the redevelopment of downtown.

The city could not control the decisions of the Rams to move and Disneyland to delay, but it has shown it can foster the construction of new buildings on wide swaths of empty lots downtown. The process still has a way to go and will require careful handling, but there have been heartening signs of progress.

The Walt Disney Co. is building an ice rink that will become the Mighty Ducks hockey team’s practice arena later this year, and it will be open to the public. The rink will also house a nonprofit youth program that includes organized sports for youngsters from low-income families, as well as educational programs and opportunities for community service.


City officials are also hoping to get another Disney company to open retail shops next to the arena. A number of downtown merchants are looking to the rumored retail complex as an economic lifeline, ending the current state of affairs: They say the neighborhood pretty much rolls up the sidewalks after 6 p.m. Shop owners also contend that the city promised them the area would soon be booming. City officials say they want to help.

Much of downtown has had a neglected look for decades, a familiar sight in many urban cores across the country. A former City Council member recently said that when people say they remember downtown’s good old days, “they aren’t remembering reality.” Numerous redevelopment attempts failed over the years. A year ago, the Celebrity Theatre closed, dealing the area another blow. It had been one of the main nighttime draws of a section from Harbor Boulevard to East Street and Cypress Street south to Broadway. After the theater folded, ending its offerings of popular singers, three restaurants came and quickly went in the area.

Downtown started looking better after the city in 1990 sold 16 acres of vacant downtown property for $2 million to a developer who built two multistory buildings, a parking structure and rows of retail and restaurant space. The City Council has approved a new community center downtown, and there are plans for a building that would house a UC Irvine extension center.

City officials were also wise to offer low-interest loans to some first-time buyers of new houses and townhomes in the neighborhood. Revitalizing the centers of cities has never been an easy task, but Anaheim has indicated it is committed to the effort, an undertaking that deserves support.