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Billboards pitched for Philly municipal office buildings amid outdoor ad boom

Composite image showing advertisement on Municipal Services Building, seen from corner of 15th and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.
Composite image showing advertisement on Municipal Services Building, seen from corner of 15th and John F. Kennedy Boulevard.Read moreInterstate Outdoor Advertising LP/Tantala Associates LLC

Philadelphia is looking to cash in on some of its centrally located government real estate, with billboards proposed for the likes of Apple and Aldo on two of the city's public office buildings.

The Philadelphia Art Commission is scheduled to consider Wednesday proposals for "advertising signs" on the Municipal Services Building at 1401 John F. Kennedy Blvd. and on the One Parkway Building at 1515 Arch St., according to an email of the commission's agenda.

The proposal is the first known attempt to place billboards on city buildings since the May 2013 passage of a bill sponsored by City Council President Darrell L. Clarke to allow ads on city-owned property. A Council consultant estimated at the time that the city could bring in $8 million from advertising on public buildings, bus shelters, and trash trucks.

But the application to the commission, which must approve any changes to city-owned property, also comes at a time of heightened sensitivity toward outdoor advertising in Philadelphia, with the proliferation of digital billboards as part of development projects rising along East Market Street.

The proposal for ads on the One Parkway and Municipal Services Buildings is attributed to Cherry Hill-based Interstate Outdoor Advertising LP and engineering and architecture firm Tantala Associates LLC of Philadelphia, according to the application material.

Interstate was selected from among companies responding to a request for proposals for the advertising project in 2015, according to city spokeswoman Ajeenah Amir. Additional city buildings were included in the request, but they solicited no interest from the ad companies, she said.

The contract to post ads on the buildings would run for a one-year term, with three potential one-year renewals, Amir said.

"We'll work with the contractor to make sure the content meets strict standards for taste and appropriateness," she said.  "The proposed displays have the capability to generate up to $500,000 annually to the city, at no risk or cost to the city."

One of three signs on the Municipal Services Building also would overlook Love Park, with the two others facing Broad Street.