Jeff makes some good points here about the political dangers of pushing the downtown performing arts center and the irony of sprawlmeisters hawking new urbanism.
But while adding amenities to keep up with other cities is foolish as an end in itself, it makes sense to consider projects on a case-by-case basis and decide on their value to the citizens of Greensboro.
As for the heart and soul thing, obviously that's subjective and personal, and I can make a case for all kinds of places in this city that seem to me part of its essence. But downtown is special, and not because of any given bar or restaurant -- more for its public space and common ground.
I tried to get at that a bit in posts like this one and this one. The value of our downtown is real, and spots like Center City Park and the courthouse square are big parts of that value, along with the sidewalks themselves. A performing arts center could be a great addition to that common space.