'Urban Experiential Displays' Proposed for Philadelphia’s Center City

An outdoor advertising company has crafted legislation, expected for City Council review, to allow electronic displays at seven locations in Center City.

April 9, 2014, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Natalie Kostelni breaks the news that Thaddeus Bartowski, who runs Catalyst Outdoor, has crafted legislation that would “create a digital district in Center City that would permit electronic displays at seven locations within the boundaries of that area.”

“Called urban experiential displays, or UEDs, they would communicate advertising, news and public service announcements. These UEDs are also being proposed as a revenue generator for the city as well as a place making mechanism.”

In what’s likely a case of understatement, Kostelni writes: “The proposal has the potential to be controversial.”

Bartowski’s pitch for the signs: “What we are doing here is the convergence of art, architecture and advertising into a singular use.”

That statement prompted the following response from Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron on Twitter: “Billboard supporters will say anything.”

The proposed signage district differs from an existing signage district on East Market Street. There, digital billboards and signs must be “attached to the exterior of buildings and landlords must invest a minimum of $10 million before they are permitted put such signs on their properties,” according to Kostelni.

In the case of the proposed Center City district, “the legislation requires a minimum of $2 million investment and a company, such as Catalyst, would have to adhere to a litany of guidelines pertaining to them. A company, such as Catalyst, will have to go through the city’s planning approval process as well as the art commission before installing a display.”

The legislation has not yet been introduced to the council. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Philadelphia Business Journal

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