Arts and entertainment district coming to downtown Atlanta

June 20,2017

Source: Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle

A large portion of downtown Atlanta soon will be illuminated with large signs and video boards following a unanimous vote by the city council to create an arts and entertainment district.

Council members approved two ordinances and a resolution Monday night setting the boundaries for the new district, specifying the types of signs property owners will be allowed to display and how the program will be funded.

The effort, a brainchild of the downtown business organization Central Atlanta Progress, is aimed at boosting downtown tourism by highlighting Atlanta's cultural attractions. In exchange for opening the downtown to creative, non-traditional commercial signage, the district will feature arts- and entertainment-based programming and special events.

Courtland Street will border the new district on the east, with Ivan Allen Boulevard on the north, Northside Drive on the west and Mitchell Street on the south.

The proposal received some push-back during Monday's meeting from representatives of the Atlanta Audubon Society, who said the new signs would endanger birds by distracting them and causing them to crash.

"Adding additional lighting to Atlanta without considering the impact on birds will stifle the progress we have made as a community toward a more sustainable city," said Nikki Belmonte, the group's executive director.

Council members approved two amendments to an agreement with Central Atlanta Progress requiring a 15-day waiting period before the organization approves or denies an application for a sign. Also, Central Atlanta Progress must pay all costs associated with notifying the public of the installation of signage.

The program will be funded through contributions from media companies to the district.

The first signs are due to be in place early next year, in time for the College Football Championship Game to be played at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.