• Billboard Comeback in Detroit?

    The dilemma in Detroit:

    • Detroit’s zoning code prohibits large outdoor advertisements in the central business district
    • After years of lax enforcement, the city ordered illegal billboards taken down at end of 2017
    • New ordinance in the works could change the rules, but it’s unclear how or when

    These three bullet points begin a special report in Crain’s Detroit Business providing an in-depth analysis of what’s happening on billboards and movement to a new sign ordinance in Detroit’s central business district.

    Here are some highlights from the article:

    • Detroit’s zoning code prohibits large outdoor advertisements in an area stretching from the Detroit River to Grand Boulevard on the east and west sides. The ordinance, conceived alongside casino legislation in the early 1990s to keep Detroit from looking like Times Square, was selectively, if ever, enforced.  There are signs in downtown Detroit, but most of those signs aren’t legal.
    • By 2016, as many as 60 signs were displayed in the central business district. And the city began to feel the pressure to enforce its almost-forgotten ordinance. The issue was brought to the cities attention by owners of legally established signs, members of City Council and others. Insider reported on one activist who filed a lawsuit against the city in November 2017.
    • The Outdoor Advertising Association of Michigan is currently supporting the ban on outdoor advertising in Detroit.  They are open to other solutions, but their immediate focus is to protect those outdoor companies who are playing by the rules and have refrained from signing billboard leases in the city due to the ordinance.   The Association learned that some of the outdoor billboard companies who had erected signs in violation of the ordinance were petitioning the city to rewrite their laws to make their signs legal.  The Association says they are opposed to operators coming into a marketplace, displaying a lot of wall signs, and then forcing the city’s hand to write an ordinance.  They are supporting an ordinance that creates a fair competitive arena for all companies.
    • Preservation groups are also involved asking the city for restraint with a sign ordinance that includes  parameters that are not detracting to existing building structures or the surrounding landscape.

    The review and creation of a sign ordinance is underway and seems like a certainty.  Detroit’s City Council passed a resolution asking for a new ordinance by this summer.

    Insider knows that a well crafted ordinance only makes a downtown core more vibrant and can generate income for both local businesses and building owners.



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