Thursday, October 05, 2006

Selling the City in Lights, P.II

The following amendment warrants a follow-up to August 15th's post and discussion on allowing Clear Channel Outdoor to place billboards within the CBD (previously restricted under Cleveland ordinance), Selling the City in Lights.

From last month's Cleveland Planning Commission Meeting, found on local planning blog Cleveland vs. The World (text taken directly from Scott's weblog which regularly documents Planning Commission Meetings):

Ordinance 1282-06: Amends sections of various ordinances related to wall murals and airport land protective districts, and authorizes the city to enter into a lease with Clear Channel Outdoor to erect a billboard on land at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
The wall murals will be located within the CBD and Flats Oxbow District. There will be six total –one will be public art. They can only go up on walls that are unsightly, needs to cover 8% of the unsightly wall, and can contain no more then 30% text. The Planning Commission has yes/no authority over any particular wall, location and the way the sign is placed on the wall. Once the wall is chosen, the image (which will be high resolution art/photo) can change every six months without review. The community will review the one wall that will contain the public art element.
Coyne: Expressed concern about how the ordinance ties the city’s hands as far as regulation is concerned.
(Passed: 4 to 2)

My understanding of the ordinance is that there is no limit in size (a minimum of 8% "unsightly" wall coverage), that advertisements are limited to two-dimensional banners, and imagery will be an overwhelming majority of the billboard. The images used, other than the public art element, will be unreviewable (only the placement of the advertisement). These descriptions, I expect, will keep billboards out of Playhouse Square (no electronic displays) and Public Square (no empty building faces) and will instead find a home on a bare wall in the Warehouse District or Gateway District (plenty of building faces, and much viewability).

While I doubt these five ad-billboards will change the look of Downtown much beyond adding a little color, light, and commercialism (unless Doritos are mounted tastelessly on the blank facade of the Standard Building backdrop north of the Old Stone Church), I am excited to see a commitment to a new piece of public art - another to contribute to the rich collection the City already enjoys, and a new, ever-evolving display for two-dimensional design. I can imagine a great tradition beginning with this timeless "canvas" as it's passed from generation to generation.

Maybe I will stumble upon a sunny weekend afternoon to capture a few locations where this public art canvas could have a great visual presence. Stay tuned...


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