In 2011 the Market Street East Advertising District was created by the Philadelphia City Council. According to zoning in the district, a property owner can put up a large, digital sign if the owner contributes $10 million in public investments and has approval from the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC). The digital signs are meant to advertise on-site uses and other uses. Essentially, property owners can put up a large sign only in exchange for making improvements to public space.
Not everyone approves of the advertising plan, however. The Preservation Alliance and Scenic Philadelphia (formerly SCRUB) wanted to preserve historic buildings and keep billboards out of the district. The groups opposed the advertising legislation. One of the buildings they wanted to preserve is the Lit Brothers building, the owners of which recently agreed to invest $10 million in improvements to the subway concourse at Ridge Avenue.
In exchange for the concourse upgrade, the owners have the right to build a digital sign on top of the Lit Brothers building. The sign is expected to be 14 feet tall, and the PCPC has approved the plan, which is the first of its kind submitted under the new advertising district.
City Council members hope the possibility of signage will simultaneously attract investors, enliven Market Street and improve public spaces.
As for the Lit Brothers signage, the owners are expected to post a $10 million bond for the upgrade to the concourse. The money will be divided over two years, with most of the funds being used in the first.
If you have questions about allowable use under particular zoning districts in Philadelphia, then you may want to speak with an attorney with experience in handling issues such as variances, conditional use permits and rezoning.
Source: Philly.com, “Lit. Bros building to get digital sign in exchange for improvements,” Kellie Patrick Gates, June 11, 2014