As consumer spending on food, drink and entertainment continues to grow, many communities are evaluating their downtown from a new perspective – that of the night time visitor. This growing pool of visitors, including new downtown dwellers or area residents out dining or celebrating as well as overnight hotel guests, often experience a place completely differently than daytime workers or shoppers. Most streetscape elements are designed for daytime visibility; planters, wayfinding signs and even storefront windows frequently lack illumination to be visible at night, and often lighting design is dictated strictly by the amount of light needed
for safe walking and driving activity.
However, creating an appealing evening environment can encourage additional spending and more frequent visits in the evening just as it does in the daytime. Communities interested in boosting their evening appeal might consider the following:
- For starters, stage a night time walk around with local stakeholders to identify areas that are particularly dark, or where existing lights may not be timed or aimed appropriately.
- Include signage, storefront or architectural uplighting as eligible uses under existing facade improvement programs.
- Add lighting to key areas which will act as wayfinding for pedestrians – path lighting from parking lots to entertainment areas, bridge or fountain lighting, and year-round tree lighting are all inexpensive ways to brighten key areas.
- Explore ways to add unique or interactive lighting to convey the district’s brand at night as well as during the day.