The Six Life Stages of an Urban Entertainment District

#TBT to the origins of Chicago’s Wicker Park, Fulton Market District, Weed Street District and many in other cities… the Circle of (Night) Life.

Tim Borden

In the beginning there were empty warehouses.  And it was good.

(Stage 1) A desolate area with low rents, many vacant commercial buildings and plenty of free parking attracts a few edgy nightclub start-ups.  The City is happy to have any businesses willing to make the risky investment to help bring a blighted area to life, and generate new tax revenue.  This short honeymoon of appreciation and tolerance by the powers that be will be the last thank you the nightclub industry receives for powering the revival of a neglected neighborhood.

(Stage 2) Trendy clubbers discover the area and more clubs open.  Parking rapidly becomes a challenge.  Rising drink prices and VIP door policies start pushing out the less affluent or attractive members of the original edgy crowd.  Media coverage champions the area and clubs as trendsetting and cool.  Police presence increases.

(Stage 3) The Entertainment District coalesces, with hip…

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