Cr Peter Mitchell has called on the council to re-energise Cleveland's CBD but others say there is no hope for what was once the Redlands' main hub.
Cr Mitchell asked council to look at improving Redlands city centres, including revitalising Cleveland, in the next budget.
But Division 7's Cr Murray Elliott said Cleveland was dead and council had exhausted every avenue in trying to restore it.
"Cleveland's still the same place it was 20 years ago. We've tried every trick in the book. I can't see any way out of this."
There were also hopes Chef's Inc, an outdoor food market which operated for just three and a half months in 2018 behind the Cleveland Library, would breathe new life into the area.
Cr Mitchell said there were many reports and plans from previous projects but there had never been an overarching, long-term strategy.
"This is after all a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "The public debate (in council) highlighted how tough this has been for so many years."
Cr Paul Gleeson said Cleveland could not compete with places like Capalaba which received much more traffic flow, had cheaper rent and was more appealing for national retailers.
Redlands Coast Chamber of Commerce president Rebecca Young said there was a stigma attached to the area which left a lack of confidence for potential investment, but many businesses had successfully occupied the CBD for years.
"Give businesses a reason to want to occupy the empty spaces, take the run down spaces in Iluka arcade and give them a facelift so that potential tenants can see themselves there," she said.
"I would encourage landlords, businesses and councils to start thinking with a place maker mentality."
Cr Paul Bishop said council was making decisions about developments like Toondah and Shoreline that were splitting the CBD.
Ms Young said Cleveland had shifted from the main centre to the periphery.
"Shops are likely to be rented between the two shopping centres or down at the harbour where there is a certain vibe for a bar or restaurants. That confidence needs to be recreated in other areas of the CBD to bring it all together."
In June 2019, Division 2 candidate Callen Sorensen Karklis started a petition to upgrade Cleveland parking and make rent more affordable.