Friday, May 04, 2007

Lights Out on the Lower East Side

Newsday is reporting that a number of night clubs have been closing as the Lower East Side transforms itself into a more gentrified setting. Frankly, we're not surprised. As we have been commenting all along, the city has no judicious public policy for nurturing its multi-billion dollar nightlife industry.

As neighborhoods become more residential it becomes more challenging to run clubs that are generally noisy and fit poorly in the changing community milieu. What the city has done, through its ill-thought-out enforcement efforts, is to steer clubs into certain areas. Then instead of restricting residential development in these areas, it allows for spot zoning and loft development that leads to conflicts with the nightlife activity.

So, the tax incentive ideas advanced by Councilman Gerson to help nurture this vibrancy on the Lower East Side, will be for nought if there isn't a concerted effort to create club zones that don't abut residential neighborhoods. The same is true on the Far West Side. Without a clear policy initiative in this area, the city's economic night life engine will be silenced.