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Atlanta City Council to vote on digital advertisement district for downtown

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Opponents fear a mini Times Square, while those for the measure say it’ll provide liveliness, funding for art

Today, the Atlanta City Council is set to vote on an ordinance to remove restrictions on lighted digital signage and advertising in downtown Atlanta.

Proposed by Central Atlanta Progress (CAP), the initiative would abolish height limits for advertising and open the door to the usage of light projections and other dynamic forms of signage.

The goal would be to enliven some of the quiet areas around the downtown district, spanning some 100 blocks between Mitchell Street, Piedmont Avenue, Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, and Northside Drive.

According to WABE, the move is catching flack from many sides, with downtown residents, urban planners, and policymakers speaking out against it.

Dissenters question whether lighted billboards are really a proper fix for current “dead zones” in downtown. While flashing lights might inherently be dynamic, they don’t do anything to actually bring physical life to the street in the way that amenities like usable park spaces, retail, or residential does.

Still, CAP pushes the “Atlanta Arts and Entertainment District” proposal as a means to drive increased nighttime activity, activate blank facades in the area, increase property value through advertising revenue potential, and even raise funds for public art installations.

As contentious as the proposal may be, it’s far from a new concept in Atlanta.

As far back as 2011, developers were pushing a “Times Square South” concept for the area around Centennial Olympic Park.

If the measure is approved, and the timeline works out, bright new signage could reportedly be in place by the Super Bowl.