COULD THERE soon be a huge wall-wrap digital ad on the Electric Factory?
City Council's Rules Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would allow for a billboard on the building at 7th and Callowhill streets, near the Vine Street Expressway. A portion of the revenue generated from the billboard would go toward programs at three nearby schools as part of a community-benefits agreement.
"People really feel they could benefit from this," said Councilman Mark Squilla, who sponsored the bill.
Parents and some neighborhood groups expressed support. But several community groups and Scenic Philadelphia, an anti-blight organization, argued that the bill would violate federal regulations, distract drivers and change the look of the neighborhood.
"It was a bad bill a year ago, and it's a bad bill now," said Rosanne Loesch, of the Society Hill Civic Association.
Loesch was referring to an effort last year by former Councilman Frank DiCicco to place a wall-wrap billboard on the same building. Nutter vetoed that bill, saying that it would violate federal and state laws because it was within 600 feet of a highway and could ultimately lead to a 10-percent reduction in federal funding.
Eva Galdstein, deputy executive director of the City Planning Commission, echoed the administration's past sentiments, adding that such billboards should be regulated through a uniform set of citywide standards.
The building's owner, Callowhill Center Associates, run by New York developer Myron Berman, waged a court battle against the city after being cited for erecting illegal wall-wrap signs in 1999.
Under the Squilla proposal, 20 percent of the revenues would be used to create the Center City North Improvement Fund, said consultant Jeff Hornstein. Hornstein said that the billboard would generate about $2.5 million annually, of which the fund would receive $500,000, with 75 percent divided evenly among Home & School Associations at Spring Garden, Kearny and McCall elementary schools. The remaining 25 percent would be split among civic associations. Council could approve the bill as early as next week.