PROJECT SUMMARIES AND TESTIMONIALS

Learn more about how RHI services helped cities throughout North America.

Austin, Texas

Refining the Live Music Capital of the World

Music cities generate significant economic revenues, yet they are also challenged by sound mitigation, venue regulation, and livable wages for musicians. RHI worked with Austin in 2009 to help the city, particularly the Sixth Street Historic Entertainment District, ensure the economic vitality of live music remains at the forefront of Austin’s appeal as a destination, while also addressing public safety and quality of life impacts on surrounding neighborhoods.

Fred Schmidt, President and CEO, Wild About Music: Through RHI, our district seems FINALLY on the road to achieving breakthrough progress in Austin’s nighttime economy.

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Calgary, Alberta

Collaborative Partnerships on Nightlife

RHI worked in Calgary in 2010 to help implement the Centre City Plan's component on Entertainment and Cultural Districts specifically relating to economic development, tourism & entertainment (vitality); crime, safety, social disorder and cleanliness (community building); and movement and access (transportation).

RHI's collaborative approach translated into partnerships among the City of Calgary, Police Service and the Downtown Association on policy development, enforcement operations, and from clean streets to vibrant spaces.

The city is now a model for proactive nightlife policies and policing.

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Delray Beach, Florida

Innovative Ways to Make Nightlife Safer and More Vibrant

Delray Beach, Florida achieved a vision of revitalization with fine dining and nighttime entertainment with a theme of "Night & Day Downtown Delray." Once called a ghost town, the city has since transformed into an award-winning All American City. East Atlantic Avenue is alive 24/7 with social activity, bustling street life, and patronage by locals and visitors. Learn how RHI helped the Downtown Development Authority to use their city's special events, nightlife, culinary tourism, residential housing and retail to reinvigorate downtown.

Marjorie Ferrer, Executive Director, Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority: None of our success to date would have been achieved in such a timely, powerful manner without RHI. RHI played a key role in the establishment of Delray Beach’s effective Clean & Safe program – which has become so successful and well-known that cities throughout Florida currently emulate it.

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Edmonton, Alberta

2009’s Most Sociable City of the Year

A hotspot for events and college students, Edmonton was challenged by violence, impaired driving, and noise. RHI helped city leaders to chart a new course for nightlife management to reduce crime and transform nightlife into a positive asset. Edmonton has conducted an economic assessment, a late night transit pilot and soft closing options. The City has a Public Safety Compliance Team, two Street as a Venue Coordinators, a program that recognizes excellence in the hospitality industry, public washrooms and social marketing programs. Entertainment areas are better maintained, better policed, and the standards for pubs and clubs have seen a significant upward shift. Social disorder issues have seen a marked drop.

Shirley Lowe, Former Executive Director, The Old Strathcona Business Association: The City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Police Service have worked closely with RHI since 2005. In reviewing our partnership, it became obvious that our successes, both in managing the nighttime economy and creating awareness of its benefits, stem from our association with RHI. RHI has provided us with the opportunity to learn from other cities and has given us access to the latest and best information from experts who give perspective and offer solutions to issues. In Edmonton, we have a dedicated group of people, funded by the City of Edmonton, that work on hospitality issues. Responsible Hospitality Edmonton would not exist without RHI.

Jill Bradford Green, Former Director, Deputy City Manager's Office of Public Involvement: RHI's experience, research, and knowledge of the nighttime economy was the credible impetus for us to receive baseline funding to support municipal responsibilities in managing 'the other 9-5'.

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Lexington, Kentucky

Building Nightlife from the Ground Up

LexingtonLexington’s Hospitality Zone Assessment was driven by their Live Entertainment Task Force through the Vice Mayor’s office. Plans to host the 2010 World Equestrian Games – the “Olympics” of the equestrian world – propelled Lexington to expedite revitalization of its downtown. A guiding aim was to create a sustainable nightlife environment that provides ‘authentic’ nighttime amenities to attract the local market rather than catering to tourists in the short-term. Downtown Lexington faced challenges in both public perception of safety and bureaucratic obstacles that were hindering new business development, such as the lack of availability of liquor licenses.

As a result of participating in RHI’s Hospitality Zone Assessment, state regulations were amended to extend the designation of “Entertainment Destination Center” to a prominent courtyard square, where a handful of clubs and bars have opened to expand nighttime usage. New policies have been implemented to address the excess of dormant liquor licenses to provide new nightlife business opportunities. The HZA process was attributed to opening up lines of communication between public/private sectors and safety agencies, which were amenable to suggestions that they take a more interactive ‘concierge’ approach to policing the nighttime economy.

Driven by RHI’s recommendations, the city of Lexington transformed its downtown into a vibrant social magnet for visitors. The downtown parking authority began development of taxi stands and musician loading zones to serve as an incentive for more live entertainment. The design and implementation of streetscape and park improvements resulted in the Fifth Third Bank Pavilion, which is now home to the successful Lexington Farmers Market and Thursday Night Live. Today the city's vibrancy is a magnet for attracting new businesses and enhancing the social options for residents and visitors. 

Tom Martin,  Editor in Chief, Business Lexington: Critical relationships between citizens, our police force, and representatives of each city division, department and agency were forged as a direct result of RHI leadership. RHI was pivotal in helping us make a lot of progress that wouldn’t have been made without outside assistance.

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Lincoln, Nebraska

Striking a Balance between College Social Life and Personal Accountability

Lincoln, Nebraska hosts a large population of college students in proximity to nightlife district destinations. Beginning in the early 1990's, RHI assisted in facilitating critical partnerships between city government, police, nightlife venues owners, community groups, and universities to share public safety strategies and ensure student accountability.

Among the early initiatives, which have become standard practices in many cities, is the development of the Lincoln Responsible Hospitality Council, which formalized an alliance among key stakeholders. Lincoln is one of the only jurisdictions that requires a manager on duty that has completed a specific management seminar. Use of "last drink data" helps to identify businesses with high risk practices, and a City Council Liquor Control Committee is an important tool to work with new and problematic businesses.

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Enhancing the Nighttime Economy through Partnerships and Licensing

The city of Milwaukee launched a series of initiatives based on RHI's Hospitality Zone Assessment process in response to the rapid growth of downtown’s nighttime economy. Recognizing nightlife as an economic driver, strategies provide a balance of support and proactive public safety. Police, food truck vendors, policy makers and residents opened dialogue and established partnerships to build a better downtown. Milwaukee virtually eliminated the presence of aggressive transients, public drinking, and significantly reduced aggravated assaults and thefts of vehicles. In 2013, the Code RED public safety initiative resulted in a 58% decline in violent crime (aggravated assault, robbery) in six entertainment districts combined. There were also drops in the use of force and the number of arrests.

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Montgomery County, Maryland

The Rise of Public-Private Partnerships to Help Manage Nightlife

As more city leaders recognize the complexity of facilitating a safe, sustainable, and vibrant nighttime economy, many have formed advisory councils, government task forces, and formal public-private partnerships to help guide them. In 2000 RHI helped establish the Montgomery County Hospitality Resource Panel as an alliance to guide nightlife development.

In 2014, the Montgomery County Nighttime Economy Task Force was established to determine a new approach to support safe and vibrant nightlife. Comprised of regulatory, enforcement, economic development, business community, and residential representatives, the task force focused on updating policies, reforming legislation, reallocating resources, and determining strategies to better support the nighttime economy.

Kathie Durbin, CPP, Director of Licensing and Education, Montgomery County, MD Department of Liquor Control: Our involvement with RHI has enabled us to keep our finger on the pulse of hospitality and community concerns, issues and most importantly -- solutions. Our safety and business alliances conduct business risk assessments as well as a new business orientation. We have been able to incorporate programs without “recreating the wheel.”

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New Orleans, Louisiana

Charting a New Path for Authentic Nightlife

Post-Katrina, RHI worked with the French Quarter-Marigny Historic Area Management District (a political subdivision of the State created in 2007) to develop a plan for the revitalization of the nighttime economy. It was essential that the plan also address the concerns of the long-time residential communities of both neighborhoods which, historically, was an uphill battle. The project outcome was a consensus-based plan reflective of the goals, needs and concerns of the hospitality industry, City government, local businesses and the area's residents.

Ernest Collins, Former Executive Director Arts & Entertainment, City of New Orleans: I would like to offer a strong endorsement of RHI. They produced a very useful and instructive study for the City of New Orleans. We were most impressed by the collaborative process they used and the recommendations they made. They were able to bring together a very diverse group of stakeholders and get them to work on common interests as well as tackling shared problems. RHI should be considered by any city developing or enhancing an entertainment zone.

Kimberly Rosenberg, Commissioner, Smith Stag, LLC, New Orleans, LA:  RHI has the skill and experience to address your community's unique needs in order to create a collaboratively developed plan for a vibrant nighttime economy to exist within a residential neighborhood.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Nation's First Nighttime Economy Manager and The Sociable City Plan

RHI was contracted by the Pittsburgh Department of City Planning for three years (2012-2014) to evaluate nightlife in four neighborhoods and develop a comprehensive plan to address the complex issues surrounding the nighttime economy. RHI’s facilitation of five working groups led to the establishment and training of the nation’s first Nighttime Economy Manager, a position to oversee citywide planning, management, resource allocation, and stakeholder coordination on nightlife.

New police deployment strategies resulted in a 30% decrease in Part 1 Crimes (aggravated assault, arson, robbery, burglary, theft) and a 28.7% decrease in 911 calls for service in 2013. Bar owners in the densest nightlife neighborhood organized a nightlife association to centralize communication with police, residents, and city government. University administrators and resident groups made great strides in repairing long strained town/gown relations through student-oriented marketing campaigns and student guides about being a good neighbor, block parties, etc.

Bruce Kraus, City Council President, City of Pittsburgh: Because of our work with RHI, we are now active facilitators and managers of nightlife. We’re light-years ahead of where we were previously. We are now a leading city in understanding the nighttime economy, its importance and relevance, and we are the first in the nation to hire a nighttime economy manager with the blessings, support and resources of the mayor’s office.

Kevin Acklin, Chief of Staff to Mayor William Peduto: RHI has given us a blueprint to take forward. This project has helped us recognize nightlife as an economy to nourish. We want to handle sociability in a multi-faceted way – not just through law enforcement – but as a community planning process that engages hospitality owners.

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Providence, Rhode Island

Managing a Regional Nightlife Destination

Providence, RI is home to multiple colleges and is a regional destination for New England with mixed age venues and a dense nightlife district. RHI assisted in the formation of the Hospitality Resource Panel (HRP) to coordinate a plan for improving safety and expanding a market base to an older nighttime clientele. Working together, HRP members updated state regulations on closing time, incorporated security training and facilitated on-going communication as the city's nighttime economy expanded.

In 2008, the US Conference of Mayors presented former Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline with the Outstanding Achievement Award for Public/Private Partnerships in recognition of his leadership with the Hospitality Resource Partnership. This RHI-created model evolved from the city’s Hospitality Zone Assessment.

David N. Cicilline, Former Mayor of Providence:  RHI helped to create the forums that we as city leaders require to address the challenges of nightlife and to enhance the benefits of Providence’s nighttime economy. The blueprint developed through RHI's Hospitality Zone Assessment resulted in improved relations among law enforcement agencies, nightlife businesses, residents and elected officials. The expertise and guidance of RHI has paved the way for development of venues that provide social options for the diverse demographics of our city.

San Jose, California

Reduce Policing Cost while Enhancing Nighttime Vibrancy

RHI assisted with the piloting of a “soft closing” to manage crowds and through the Hospitality Zone Assessment, developed recommendations to adapt policing to a more vibrant nighttime economy, update codes for mixed use development, and create a new position in the city manager’s office to serve an ombuds role, currently identified as the downtown coordinator to liaison among the key stakeholders and implement the recommendations from the HZA.

Key to change was the introduction of a new policing model, evolving from insights gathered from the HZA. City council approved a plan that reduces the number of officers, provides specialized training, including on upcoming special events so they can serve as ambassadors, and regular meetings with businesses. The net savings in police costs for the first year was $141,000.

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Seattle, Washington

A Great American Music City’s Approach to Nightlife Safety and Vitality

SeattleSeattle was one of four pilot cities participating in RHI's 2002-03 assessment of trends in downtown districts with nightlife. Seattle launched a comprehensive Nightlife Initiative in 2010 covering a full spectrum of nightlife strategies. Learn the critical components of this overarching plan to sustain Seattle as a popular destination and a Great American Music City.

James Keblas, Former Director, Seattle Office of Film + Music: RHI’s work transformed our community here in Seattle by turning our once oppressive stance on nightlife into one of nurture and support. Through RHI’s work, we have overcome an “us against them” attitude between government and nightlife businesses that scarred our city. RHI lifted these stakeholders above the controversy and helped them find common ground, resulting in the 2010 release of the Seattle Nightlife Initiative that, for the first time, brought a comprehensive approach to managing Seattle’s nighttime economy. This effort has won support across our political, business and residential landscape and has become a national model for solving this age-old issue. We would not have had the same outcome without RHI’s leadership and expertise.

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Springfield, Missouri

Striking a Balance between College Social Life and Personal Accountability

The city of Springfield, Missouri had an opportunity to work from the ground up to use live music businesses as a catalyst to energize a blighted commercial district. Springfield proposed a zoning and economic development plan to build controls into zoning and licensing that assured management of potential impacts and quality of life for surrounding residents. The City Planning Department then engaged RHI’s services to conduct a Hospitality Zone Assessment. RHI confirmed that entertainment could be an economic stimulus and that the linear style of the district and placement of existing residential naturally lent to creation of three sub-districts, with higher intensity located on both ends of the district and low intensity in the middle near residents.

The downtown business improvement district facilitated formation of a collaborative Hospitality Resource Panel (HRP) with City, businesses and resident partners working together to develop a strategy that created incentives for best practices and penalties for non-compliance. The HRP successfully overcame an ordinance barrier requiring licensed beverage establishments to maintain 200 feet from each other, by placing more stringent controls on potential impacts of greater district density. The City also produced a checklist to help entrepreneurs assess their compatibility with the goals of the district by outlining steps in licensing, and criteria for licenses issued in the Commercial Street Planning Area. This process initiated creation of a Community Improvement District, and led to 16 new business openings in 2007 on Commercial Street.

Raymond “Rusty” Worley, Executive Director, Urban Districts Alliance:  Through RHI's expertise, we established exceptional relationships with police, and expectations of being a good neighbor which are reinforced by peer support from bar and restaurant owners.

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Stockton, California

Building Nightlife from the Ground Up

Among the challenges faced by Stockton included providing incentives for business and residential development downtown and to both attract and retain the local “creative class” to grow an educated workforce. The city aimed to change the inaccurate negative perceptions about safety downtown by proving that a vibrant downtown could thrive in Stockton and become a driver for the local economy.

The Downtown Stockton Alliance (DSA) and City of Stockton contracted with RHI to develop a hospitality zone “from the ground up” as an economic development tool to take downtown’s fledgling entertainment businesses to the next level of vibrancy. Since working with RHI, the Downtown Stockton Alliance, which oversees development of the downtown hospitality zone, implemented a new business assessment on late-night businesses to provide funding for specialized services through 2017.

Among the outcomes achieved thus far include a reorientation of City government to a more customer service environment by revamping the special events ordinance with a one-stop shop model, and the integration of website and internet technology into the event permit process. Other milestones include a city wide re-branding effort, which was officially adopted by the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, and vibrant street entertainment.

Stockton police now interface with businesses and the BID to implement Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) techniques to address problems proactively. A training module was developed by the Stockton police department for all security personnel within the district (including private interior security, operators, DSA Hospitality Guides/Ambassadors, private district security patrols).

Dennis Smallie, Former Executive Director, Downtown Stockton Alliance:  Because of RHI’s resources, downtown Stockton now boasts one of the lowest crime areas of the city. RHI helped us through a collaborative approach develop a Hospitality (Entertainment) Zone from the ground level. They educated business owners, elected officials and citizens.

Katherine Miller, Former Vice Mayor: As a result of RHI’s assessment, we have a much better understanding of potential pitfalls, how to avoid/mitigate them and challenges and benefits of nightlife.

Tampa, Florida

Balancing Vibrant Street Life with Pedestrian Safety

Tampa’s Ybor City is a historic district built around the success of the region’s cigar industry. Falling into disrepair during economic downturn, the city of Tampa established a “wet zone” and a variance on parking to allow the growth of evening and late-night entertainment venues. Taking over many of the large spaces, nightlife venues opened and operated successfully, increasing the need for additional parking, which the city provided. Eventually, nighttime activity level grew so high that street closures were implemented on Friday and Saturday nights to ensure pedestrian safety. This strategy spiraled out of control with an influx of teenagers taking advantage of the “street party” atmosphere. Police were reactive rather than proactive to crowd control, responding only after fights broke out. Off-duty officers were hired by the clubs, and though increased police presence was viewed as a safety measure, others believed it created an opposite effect.

RHI worked with Ybor City in 2002 and through a series of roundtable focus groups identified the following areas for improvement: Modify entertainment space for more uses to serve a larger market; Improve marketing and promotion of the Ybor City experience; Create more diverse street activities to attract diverse ages; Expand community policing activities; Institute better risk management procedures.

Today, Ybor City has reopened the street, expanded the sidewalk area and added outdoor cafes and seating. Better lighting complements a specially trained police unit that now completes courses in community relations and is knowledgeable about Ybor City’s tourism and special event activities. A unified task force of safety, business and residential groups meet regularly to address impacts from an active nightlife. This group has initiated a number of programs, including seven days-a-week trash management, late-night child protection curfew and collaborative marketing campaigns. Nightlife venues have also adapted to an older market, with higher quality dining options and more diverse entertainment.

Vince Pardo, Manager, Ybor City Development Corporation, Tampa, FL: RHI has been a tremendous asset in late night economy research, best practices and helping us establish public policy and operational practices. Outstanding resource!

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Tempe, Arizona

The Delicate Balance in Public Space: Streets and Sidewalks as Social Destinations

Downtown streets and sidewalks have increasingly become new destinations for socializing. Sidewalk cafés, events, street performance, vending and public art, tools which can successfully activate public space, can also bring rogue and illegal formats such as street performers using portable amplifiers at all hours and “gypsy” vending. Pedestrian traffic also attracts panhandlers, homeless and a new breed of transient: Nomadic belligerent youth who are creative at circumventing laws. Public perception of safety relies on managing all these dynamics and requires a delicate balance of vibrancy, safety and constitutional rights.

RHI worked with Tempe, AZ to create a comprehensive strategy to manage a vibrant public space with a balance of uses and users, to communicate and uphold standards for civility, and restore a positive downtown experience.

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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