Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is discussing a designated nightlife district in New York City
But neighbors often disagree–loudly.
“It uproots the neighborhood,” said Diem Boyd, the founder of activist group the LES Dwellers, who lives in the Lower East Side. Her neighborhood is quickly becoming a nightclub district. “People coming to party in the [Lower East Side] are driving in with license plates from New Jersey. Our quality of life has totally deteriorated.”
She said a designated nightlife district is a great idea. “The nightclubs should go to Times Square, which is equipped to handle crowds,” Boyd said. “Midtown is a disaster, nobody is going back to the office, especially millennials. Put nightlife in midtown and make it a tourist trap like Times Square. They can withstand that capacity of people; let that be a nightlife zone that can be monitored.”
Sean Sweeney agrees that nightlife should have its own dedicated district. He’s the director of the Soho Alliance, a neighborhood organization.
“It’s okay to have financial or jewelry districts, they’re compatible with residential,” he said. “But when you have an industry that ruins people’s lives and quality of life and their productivity, and you force them to move, that’s an imbalance that needs to be addressed.”
Others say that art and nightlife can be a force for good within a neighborhood—and can enhance the value of commercial space.
Over in Noho, the relatively new Zero Bond private member’s club on Bond Street—which costs $9,000 to join—has become a selling point. Nick Gavin, a broker with Compass who specializes in high-end homes, said customers ask about Zero Bond when looking at penthouses, lofts and condos in Soho and Noho. “It comes up that it’s great to have that nearby,” he said. “It’s a perk you take into consideration, an amenity that helps add value for sure.”
The Gerber Group, which owns and operates several bars and restaurants in the city, has found it’s helpful to position nightlife either up top (rooftops) or down below (basements), and to have a door person and security guards. Gerber Group runs the rooftop hotel bar Mr. Purple on the Lower East Side and Daphne nightclub beneath the Hotel 50 Bowery.
“It can make neighborhoods safer having people out at night,” said Scott Gerber, president. “People feel better when there’s people around.”
Another example is his latest Arlo Hotel that opened in the Garment District at 351 West 38th Street. “That area of the city was not great for a while, there were a lot of homeless people on the streets and drug use,” he said. “The opening of the hotel and its restaurant and rooftop bar Nearly Ninth has benefited the community. We’re seeing locals coming to the bar, they appreciate it. It has cleaned up a bit.”
Paul Seres, founder of Helios Hospitality Group, said it’s understandable that residential neighborhoods might want nightlife sectioned off. Seres has owned and operated restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the city, and he consults with neighborhoods and municipalities as a board member of the Responsible Hospitality Institute.
“In most instances, districts that have a vibrant nightlife are not usually in residential areas,” he said. “The ones that are, unless they are properly managed at the city level, are riddled with quality-of-life issues for the residents.”
“That’s why a lot of nightlife districts are started in areas that once were zoned for manufacturing and are now riddled with large vacant spaces,” he added. Whether that works, he said, “all depends on your perspective on what a good party scene is.”