Urban place making through signage
As we reported recently, Southpace Properties won approval to install a large, illuminated projecting sign at their downtown location on Richard Arrington Blvd. North and Third Avenue. It just went up. A great addition to the urban streetscape, and a harbinger, we hope, of better times for commercial real estate here and around the country.
POSTSCRIPT: not there yet, but one of our readers pointed out that this type of large, neon sign is reminiscent of the type of signage you see on Shanghai’s famous shopping street, Nanjing Road. I’ve been there, and it’s indeed amazing at night. A shot below:
Neon writ large
This morning at Design Review Committee, several sign packages were approved. Above is a rendering of the new illuminated, projecting sign for Southpace Properties, the commercial real estate firm located in the historic Title Building at the corner of Richard Arrington Blvd. and 3rd Avenue North. Slogging out of a brutal recession that’s been crippling to the commercial real estate market, this sign is a hopeful indicator that firms like Southpace intend to stick around and that development will continue. The proportion and illumination mimics the original projecting signs installed in the 1920’s on this building; its unanimous approval signals a welcome reversal to the city’s aversion to projecting signs which started in the 1970s (it became fashionable to consider projecting signs old-fashioned and messy). If they’re designed nicely, and proportional, projecting signs are an important part of the urban fabric. Downtowns look blank and forlorn without them.
A big investment on a big corner
Above is the approved awning and signage package for the front of MetroPrime, a new steak house and bar in Five Points South right on the circle, in the former location of the Mill restaurant. Described as an upscale steak house, the restaurant will also feature a casual bar/cafe side with its own, lower-priced menu. After several half-hearted attempts to open slightly revised versions of the Mill over the last few years, it’s exciting to see a totally new concept for this crucial corner. The large outdoor patio will remain open for dining. Plans are to be open by August.
Back to the boards
On a final note, the committee rejected Corporate Realty‘s plan to paint the former Saks building (pictured above to the right, in 1908: you are looking north along 19th Street North with First Avenue just ahead) in shades of grey and white. The red brick building, accented with cast stone and metal, is in very good condition and the committee objected to its character being simplified and homogenized by the paint scheme. Perhaps it would be ideal to clean the existing red colored paint from the red brick, and leave the existing details distinct.
[thanks to Southpace and Reliable Sign Services for the sign rendering, MetroPrime and CityVision for their rendering, and Birmingham Public Library for the historic image]