Nightlife districts (a.k.a. hospitality zones) cycle through four distinct cycles:

  • Emerging: The district hosts unique social venues and attracts young risk-takers at night. Venues may be located in unconventional spaces (e.g. warehouses) on streets with more vacancies than occupied venues. Only the most daring enter these trendy, up-and-coming districts, as they may not feel as safe as more developed districts.

  • Developed: As an emerging district gains popularity, new businesses open, which spurs development of retail, residential housing, and professional services. A developed district has a steady stream of foot traffic during the day and evening. There is a stable number of businesses, with more occupancies than vacancies. The district may host a variety of locally-owned cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs.

  • Mature: A developed district's commerical success may increase real estate values, which drive out local and independent businesses. They are replaced by regional or national chains. New residents may complain about the social activity that drew them to the district in the first place, which can result in tensions between residential and commercial uses. Music and nightlife venues may be displaced to other districts.

  • Declining: The growth of high-occupancy nightlife businesses can push out non-hospitality businesses that drew patrons during the day and early evening. Declining districts are characterized by an imbalance in uses by time of day or mix of business types. Crime and disorder may increase to the point that public safety and quality of life is severely compromised to the point of deterioration. Real estate values plummet and so, businesses may resort to risky practices to continue to attract patrons.

The same district may cycle through these stages multiple times.

What is the Impact of a District's Life Cycle on its Nightlife Management Plan?

Each district life stage requires different strategies and tactics.

Adjustments to city services and resource allocation can help stabilize a district before it enters the next life cycle. For example, reorienting police deployment, utilizing private security, and coordinating transportation are critical tools for district management.

Providing assistance to new businesses earlier in the application process can prevent the loss of start-up capital due to delays in permits and licenses. Organization of business improvement districts and instituting clean and safe programs can also prevent decline.

How does RHI Evaluate your Districts' Life Stages?

RHI evaluates a district's life stage by inquiring about the evolution of the district, the patrons it serves, times of day it operates and the mix of businesses present in the district, as well as the current approach to public safety management and business support services. Read more about RHI's approach to working with cities in our services section.


Introduction to RHI's Conceptual Framework

Form an Alliance

Plan for People

Assure Safety

Enhance Vibrancy  


Introduction to Core Concepts

Hospitality Zones: Benefits and Challenges

Life Cycles of Nightlife Districts

Sociability Preferences by Generation



"RHI plays a leading role in countering that negative image of nightlife establishments.
With keen insight, considerable experience and academic approach, RHI has single handedly changed the
tone of the debate and created a positive dialogue in city after city."
Rob Bookman, Counsel to New York City Hospitality Alliance


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RHI is a nonprofit organization founded in 1983 with a mission to assist businesses and communities to plan safe and vibrant places to socialize. RHI's Sociable City events create an organized opportunity to connect and share information with peers and access resources from RHI.  © 2017 Responsible Hospitality Institute