Read this article about parking in Mississippi all the way through. You get to the last sentence and you find the solution. "Once they find out what we have downtown, they’ll come here regardless." Yep that’s it. All the free parking on earth won’t bring them down if theres no reason to go there.
If they were to charge for parking two things would happen. First employees would be driven off the streets and into local lots and second, the money raised could be used to bring people down to the center city: The place could be cleaned up, sidewalks and streetscapes renewed, programs run, storefronts cleaned up, etc etc etc. and people would come.
Thats all it takes, but not one word in this relatively long article about charging for parking.
I shake my head.