Atlanta's Plan to Create Its Own Times Square
"New York’s Times Square, London’s Piccadilly Circus, Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing: These teeming “bright lights districts” are such integral parts of each megacity’s identity that a visitor almost feels compelled to experience their frenetic, always-illuminated energy.
Some smaller American cities have recently been attempting to mimic this aesthetic, albeit on a lesser scale, in the hope of spurring economic development and a more pedestrian-friendly downtown. Denver’s theater district, for instance, now features an enormous video screen and lighted advertisements peddling the latest in products and entertainment, and Atlanta is in the process of planning such a district for a section of its downtown.
The organization Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) is spearheading the effort to relax signage restrictions so that property owners can go bigger and brighter. “At this point, downtown Atlanta’s zoning doesn’t allow signs that are over 200 square feet, and our billboards are stuck in time,” says Jennifer Ball, CAP’s Vice President for Planning and Economic Development. “We’re anticipating an increase in size as well as the ability to do large-screen video and LED boards.” Atlanta’s City Council will likely vote on the measure in January.
Part of the goal is to capitalize on such signage during sporting events that will soon take place downtown, especially the college football championships in 2018, the Super Bowl in 2019, and the NCAA Final Four in 2020. Media companies, in exchange for the benefit of new signage, would be required to advertise certain products or services that sponsor the events."
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