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Will Digital Smokestack Be ATL's Greatest Landmark?

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In the eyes of one entrepreneur, the huge white smokestack that peers down on Connector commuters from Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will soon be Atlanta's new-age Eiffel Tower. The 300-foot-tall Corey Tower, owned by advertising pro Billy Corey, is undergoing preparations to become a gigantic digital billboard, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. At 80 feet tall and 25 feet wide, the LED-signage is being designed by the Utah company behind iconic digital billboards along the Las Vegas Strip and in Times Square. Still, it's hard to read the following Corey quote with a straight face: "This will be a landmark for the city of Atlanta. Like the Statue of Liberty. The [Gateway] Arch in St. Louis. The Space Needle in Seattle," Corey told the newspaper. He goes on to say the tower, which he's been calling the most visible object in the Southeast for years, will be more eye-catching than the new Falcons Stadium. Now that's bravado.

The purpose of Corey's space-age tower will be to project his company's logo to the millions of drivers who stream (or crawl) along the Connector. The newspaper reports that crews have already installed signage brackets, and in coming weeks cranes should be hoisting up huge metal frames that will hold the LED panels in place. Corey hopes to activate the towering sign by year's end.

As Atlanta magazine wrote in 2009, the tower was built as a Georgia Power steam plant a half-century ago; long after that technology had become outmoded, Corey purchased the structure in the mid-90s. Back then, representatives of Corey's company spoke of "The Power of the Tower," which they estimated one million people see each day. Corey, who was raised in nearby Cabbagetown, called the edifice the "best branding vehicle this side of Times Square." Is all of this crazy talk, or could Corey be on to something here?

· Downtown's Corey Tower to become eye-catching digital billboard [Atlanta Business Chronicle]
· A mysterious tower and a towering rivalry [Atlanta magazine]

[ABOVE: The 300-foot-tall Corey Tower, pre-digitalization. Photo: Flickr]