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Massive Midtown billboards move toward digitization, despite opposition

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A city board says the signs are legal, though some claim otherwise

a picture of the building and billboards
Imagine these, but as colossal TVs.
Midtown Alliance

Hundreds of thousands of commuters' daily trip through Atlanta just took a step toward becoming much brighter—literally.

Tazmedia Group, the owner of arguably Midtown's most prominent advertising spaces, has been pushing to outfit its two massive billboards mounted on a decades-old office building with new LED light boards.

Some neighbors have taken issue with the effort.

In February, Tazmedia secured City of Atlanta permits to digitize the billboards installed at 1655 Peachtree Street, a 1960s structure that overlooks Interstate 85.

The Hebrew Benevolent Congregation—also known as The Temple—Hament Desai, and Selig Enterprises then appealed the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment to void Tazmedia’s permits, claiming the signs were illegally installed in the 1990s.

But on Thursday, the BRZ unanimously shot down the appellants' complaint, ushering Tazmedia's goal toward fruition, according to the company's president, Geoff Anderson.

“The BZA agreed that the permit applications were thoroughly vetted by the city’s staff and properly issued,” Anderson told Curbed Atlanta.

Midtown Alliance

But that doesn't mean the fight is over for those who allege the billboards are illegal and a safety issue for passing motorists.

Kevin Green, president of Midtown Alliance, told Curbed the organization is still backing the opposition party, and that affected property owners are weighing the option of taking this issue into the courtroom.

“[Midtown Alliance] continues to maintain that these oversized advertising billboards are clearly illegal and more than 20 times larger than would be allowed under any applicable ordinance,” he said.

“Converting them to 6,000 square feet of LED screens will make them impossible to escape,” Green continued. “The impacted property owners will be discussing options, which include a direct appeal to the Fulton County Superior Court, where a judge would make the decision.”

The appellants claimed in legal documents obtained by Curbed that, in the early 1990s, the company that owns the billboards—now called Tazmedia Group—installed ad spaces that were far larger than its permits would allow.

Anderson then responded: “Our company did comply with the ordinance, [the signs] were legally permitted, they did not exceed the allowed sign size, and they are legal business-identification signs.”