On the beat: 04/14

Urban Nights defunct; now what?

By Jim Bucher
By now you’ve heard the news.

Urban Nights, the wonderful twice-yearly Downtown Dayton promotional event is done.

The everything-is-great-in-Dayton party pulled out all the stops, offering music, entertainment, shopping, dining and showing off its awesome central city housing. It was an offshoot of the old Downtown Dayton Days (DDD).

The latter was during a time when downtown had numerous department store anchors and businesses like Mead, Reynolds and Reynolds, etc. employing hundreds.

When they shuttered or moved, DDD was reinvented as Urban Nights, reflecting changing times and landscape of downtown.

But now that’s dead.

The Downtown Dayton Partnership (DDP), the group behind Urban Nights, cited the changing face of downtown as the reason for the cancellation.

Now with fewer businesses downtown, but a surge in housing development, it’s time to regroup.

Also, some were complaining that the two Urban Nights events had conditioned folks to only come downtown twice a year.

So now what?

There has to be something the DDP can do to promote, highlight and plug what downtown has to offer.

Since I’ve been around the block a few times, I’m old enough to remember the highly successful Affairs on the Square.

These events offered music, food and fun on Courthouse Square, entertaining thousands. Who knows, maybe a return is on the horizon.

But I digress; all is not lost! Because in Urban Nights’ place, the DDP is rolling out smaller events, held more often.

The first happening will be May 8, an arts night that puts the spotlight on things already happening around downtown – like Pickin’ in the Park at RiverScape, and arts events at K12 Gallery and Dayton Visual Arts Center, plus the Sideshow at the Old Yellow Cab Building.

The Partnership promises there’s more to come and will make more announcements later this spring.

So as I do here often, I turned to my wonderful readers for ideas on what to do downtown.

Susan writes, “How about a round-robin dining event? Start with appetizers and move to a new restaurant for the next.”

Susan, great idea. Many years ago this was tried; appetizers at one establishment, entrée at the next, then the final stop was dessert, all the while traveling to and fro on an RTA street car. I say let’s do it again!

Melissa Ann says, “How about having something every weekend, instead of once a month? Also if it involves eating, creating a menu that everyone can afford?”

Michael’s take: One-time events are laborious and expensive. Downtown Dayton has a lot of assets and a burgeoning housing stock. Redevelopment, housing and long-term entertainment/amenities are the key.”

Tom: “Downtown Dayton will never see revival with our city commission-manager system of government where the mayor is merely a figurehead and has no more power than other commission members. This system basically can only administer the status quo. As a recent Atlantic article points out, ‘Where there is a successful downtown, you will almost always find a strong mayor, or series of mayors, working in strong-mayor systems to use their leverage on behalf of downtown improvement.’ It is difficult to lead without a bully pulpit and some power behind it.”

Tom for mayor!

Jeff writes, “They shut down Urban Nights because ‘it got too big.’ Ever heard of any kind of business shuttering a promo because it was too successful? I understand they had problems. But that’s part of growing. Fix the problem, tweak the promo, whatever, but don’t shut it down. So what happens when the next promo is successful?”

And Rose’s take: “Well let me think, we could bike around the city and not stop at any place in town for fear of it gaining business and then we might become a city where people might come into. Or we could welcome everyone to town every day, not just once a month for a few hours. Yeah a bike ride through the city sounds best.”

Bryan has the final words. “The bad thing about Urban Nights is that the businesses are spread out over a huge distance,” he says. “Here in Troy when they do an evening business open house event, the small business shops, local places are within only three or four blocks. If you want people to explore Dayton, find an attraction similar to the statues they bring to Troy.”

You guys are awesome. I love my readers and all their great ideas.

It seems like downtown has to reinvent itself every so often with the changing times.

We shall see.



A regionally known and loved local television icon for over 25 years, “Buch’s” followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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