Allentown City Council Approves Signs for Upcoming Entertainment Venue on Hamilton Street
The Allentown City Council has approved a zoning ordinance amendment, allowing entertainment venue signs for structures fronting Hamilton Street between Ninth and Tenth streets. The new provisions allow blinking, flashing, electronically changing, or animated designs as long as the lights do not shine directly onto existing residential uses.
Previously, these types of signs were only permitted on buildings fronting Hamilton Street between Fifth Street and Sixth Street. Under the new ordinance, these signs will be available for structures that provide primarily for live entertainment uses for 500 or more people at a time.
The City Council approved the amendment to accommodate the plans of City Center Investment Corp, which intends to develop a 30,000-square-foot two-story entertainment venue and a 58,400-square-foot five-story 140-room hotel with restaurant and tavern space.
Described as a “game-changer” by Mayor Ray O’Connell, the project is set to transform the downtown area and usher it into the 21st century. Council President Daryl Hendricks also said that the development will bring in more customers to the local restaurants and shops, leading to an overall economic revival.
Nonetheless, not everyone is happy with the development. Two councilwoman, Natalie Santos and Ce-Ce Gerlach, voted against the zoning amendment. Gerlach criticized the process, stating that residential neighbors weren’t properly notified of the changes. Tilghman Street resident Jessica Ortiz also criticized the overall project, saying that four businesses have gone out of business because of the development.
City Center Investment Corp Senior VP, Jeff Vaughan, said the company understands the concerns of the residents, but it was necessary to develop buildings with different uses to make the downtown area a vibrant and attractive place for people to live and visit.
The use of digital signs has long been a contentious subject, particularly for local residents who worry about the bright lights and noise of electronic billboards. However, proponents argue that the signs are essential for entertainment venues and can be used to inform the public about shows, events, and other important information.
The zoning amendment will not apply to existing residents or properties. Instead, it will apply to future properties that are built on the fronting Hamilton Street between the Ninth and Tenth streets. Moreover, the amendment states that the digital signs should not use moving or alternating lights, no sound, and they should not have excessive lights that would shine directly on residential areas.
Overall, the new zoning ordinance amendment is expected to be a game-changer for the city, with the new digital signs making it easier for entertainment venues to inform the public about upcoming events. It could also prove crucial for the development of new properties in the area, potentially leading to an increased demand for housing and commercial spaces. While there are concerns from some residents, it seems that the benefits of the amendment will outweigh the drawbacks.