You remember Craig Hall, right? He's the developer who's been talking since forever about building something fancy in the Arts District -- like, say, that stalled-out tower where presently there sits a parking garage on Ross. Only, remember, he and the city got sideways over unpaid lease monies and TIF-for-tats, which didn't do anything to speed up construction on a tower that's been talked about since ... 1986. So, yeah. If you don't remember, that's fine too. It's been a while.
But, he's back -- before the city council, matter of fact, this coming Wednesday, when the council will vote on letting him create a new subdistrict within the Arts District Special Provision Sign District. Why the need? Because Hall wants permission to put four signs on the building he now says he's going to build across from the Meyerson -- the Hall Arts Center, which, as you'll note, is a shadow of a shadow of the original proposal. They're all so-called "tenant identity signs," one of which would be nine feet tall by 50 feet long, another of which could be as large as nine feet tall by 60 feet long.
City staff hates the idea of giving Hall dispensation, which is why it suggested the City Plan Commission deny the request: "Staff is concerned with treating a single block within the Art's District differently from the Arts District as a whole and therefore cannot support the applicant's request." But the CPC voted to OK the request, which Hall has said he needs in order to secure tenants in order to build the building. But some at City Hall are concerned that the way the application reads now, he could probably put the signs on the parking garage; there is no language in the application that says they have to go on the so-called Hall Arts Center.
Earlier this week, Lynn Derman of One Arts Plaza Homeowner's Association Board of Directors, wrote a Letter to the Editor, calling for opponents to bum-rush City Hall:
The proposed internally illuminated signs would degrade and distract from the surrounding award-winning architecture and mar the Arts District's otherwise carefully orchestrated, non-commercial streetscape. The signs would create significant light pollution, be visible from all arts venues and both ends of Flora, and sit directly in the sight lines of Museum Tower and One Arts Plaza residents. ...To allow large or internally illuminated commercial signage will create a dangerous precedent, forever changing the district's ambience and arts focus.
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A better look at the Hall Arts Center, and its potential impact on the Arts District, follows.