LED billboards to Go Up at Verizon Center?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe in DC

Thanks to everyone who forwarded emails from Vida Fitness:

Dear VIDA Members,
DC City Council will soon consider Bill 19-0517, which would allow enormous full-motion Jumbotron billboards to be placed anywhere on the exterior of the Verizon Center. The bill will exempt these billboards from most of the regulations that apply to all other billboards in the city.

As a VIDA Member, you need to be aware that one of Verizon Center’s planned Jumbotrons would literally cover the vast majority of VIDA’s leased space. One of the important amenities that we offer is floor-to-ceiling glass windows and the natural light is very much a part of what makes VIDA so enjoyable. Many of you value the scenic views of downtown DC you enjoy while utilizing our cardio equipment or simply walking the 3rd Floor during your weight lifting routine. This visual reinforces that this is truly a neighborhood where people work, live and work out.

The proposed bill allows for LED billboards of unlimited size, including signs that could wrap around the Verizon Center and cast light 7 or 8 blocks down G Street, meaning they would be visible from the Treasury Building, which sits right next to the White House. The authorizing legislation allows up to 9 Jumbotrons of any size in any location. The Verizon Center plan does not respect the local community of residences, offices, businesses, museums, theatres, and restaurants.

The billboards may hamper the residential development that the city is actively trying to encourage in the area. A recent study showed that billboards negatively impact the value of neighboring residences and drive down property values. This, combined with a decline in tenants interested in having their bedrooms bathed in glowing LED lights, would ultimately discourage residential development and result in a loss of property taxes collected by the city.
The legislation will be heard before the City Council on Jan. 23 at 2:00 PM. Your input is very important. Please join us by filling out the petition form at www.scenic.org/verizon. You may also call or email the DC City Council directly.

If you want to speak at the hearing, you must sign up before Friday, January 20th.
Contact Melanie Williamson at (202) 741-2112 or email her at [email protected]

The hearing is Monday, January 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM.
Room 123, John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

David von Storch
President & Founder
VIDA Fitness

Do you think the Verizon Center should be able to have LED billboards?

34 Comment

  • I think billboards are fine, but I think this goes way too far – unlimited size? Any location? Let’s create a reasonable zone of the building for this kind of thing. If you can see it from space, it’s not needed or wanted here.

    Also, let’s be sure to mention what this is really about – more money for the Verizon Center and more corporate “your life is incomplete and insignificant because you don’t own this car/shampoo/phone/etc so buy it today!” BS…

  • I don’t know the details of the current law, but I don’t see why Verizon Center should get any special exemption from the laws on billboards. Presumably we established reasonable rules about what where and when they can be put up. We should stick to those rules. If they’re no longer appropriate, we should change the rules for everyone, not exempt one development.

    Personally, I find LED billboards obnoxious, but we should just apply the rules fairly.

    • Sure you know, same as it always is, kick backs to the city council. I bet not only will some pockets get lined but free lifetime tickets to any even they want will be slid under the table. The City Council will screw any resident for their own good, proven over and over. Use your vote wisely people, simple as that.

  • DC can sometimes appear to be a cold/sterile city, particularly downtown. Personally, I like the ads and lights around Chinatown and would be happy to see more of them. They act like a beacon for night-life.

    Also, I don’t think that study on billboards is all that relevant to the type of advertisement in question.

    • Chinatown is anything but cold and sterile. Stick the board in Crystal City if you want to decorate.

      • G,

        Yes, that’s what I mean. The lights and displays that are already in Chinatown really liven up the area. I think more vibrant ads like the one being discussed would add to this.

  • Don’t block my view at Vida!

  • More reasons to avoid chinatown.

  • I’m in favor of the billboards. Whether people want it to be or not, the area around the Verizon center has become DC’s (appropriately sized) Times Square. Deal with it. This is not a recent phenomenon. I’d be willing to bet that 90% of the people living nearby moved there within the past 10 years. The billboards are not hidden. So why not embrace what the neighborhood has become? If you want darkness, “move to Virginia” (or anywhere else in DC).

    As for Vida, if the natural light was so much “a part of what makes VIDA so enjoyable,” they should have included a provision against the erection of signs in their lease.

    • as compared to what, the Caps and Wizards, who’s been tennants for 15 years? This isn’t exactly MSG we’re talking about.

      The billboards are an obnoxious blight. I sympathize with anyone who lives or works within eyeshot and has to deal with this light and sound pollution. It’s basically VC extending a giant FU to anyone not attending their events or passing through as tourists. No one who lives and/or works near this wants to see it happen.

      • I work a few blocks away and often pass by even if not attending a Verizon Center event. I’m certainly not a tourist. And yet, I appreciate the vibrancy of the area. The fact that it’s become a teen/tourist/event mecca means that I’d never want to live there, but what’s wrong with appealing to those groups? Tourism is a huge part of the DC economy. Do you think Times Square primarily appeals to NYC residents? Please. DC is a city, and a city will have different areas to attract different people, residents and nonresidents alike. This is one of our tourist areas. Nothing wrong with embracing that.

        • Maybe Times Square is a uniquely NYC attraction which has served that role for ages. What OTHER US city has a comparable urban core, or should we just aspire to have a poseur Times Square?

          There’s something sterile and fake and Verizon Center and their cheap grab at easy ad money at the public’s expense. Good for Vida for raising this issue as well, less it get painted as a NIMBY issue. I don’t live there, so it’s not my backyard — I still find the concept utterly repulsive

  • OMG they will be visible from the Treasury Department! What monsters!

  • Oh no, I can’t see the windows of the building across the street while I run on the treadmill anymore! White People Problems!!! 🙂

    • I see plenty of non-white people at Vida and WSC for that matter my friend.

    • racist much?

    • Exactly–the windows face a building? I don’t understand…

      And all of you people need to google “snl white people problems.” He’s referencing a Charles Barkley skit. Someone always has to say this on EVERY post on PoP: calm down.

      • Daylight and views are important aspects of creating a quality enviornment. They shouldn’t be disregarded so lightly. The window’s don’t just look onto a building, they look on the streets and the city life below. A much more enjoyable experience, than looking at the back of an oversized sign. Why would anyone accept such mediocrity. This isn’t a probelm of class, or race. Its a human thing. Humans want to see and relate to the world around them. Its all about creating a quality liveable city.

  • Here’s the bill if anyone wants to read it: http://dcclims1.dccouncil.us/images/00001/20111011102732.pdf

    I’m not sure it’s as dire as the VIDA letter makes it out to be.

  • “This, combined with a decline in tenants interested in having their bedrooms bathed in glowing LED lights, would ultimately discourage residential development and result in a loss of property taxes collected by the city.”

    I love VIDA and love where I live, but Mr. von Storch’s email gave me a good chuckle this morning. The U-Street VIDA has “glowing LED lights” up and down the front of the building. Living 2 blocks north, I’m one of the lucky few whose bedrooms are “bathed” in its nightly glow (anyone else notice the few times they’ve even turned on the strobe feature?). But not to worry, Mr. von Storch. I won’t attend the hearing to point out this inconsistency because I rather enjoy it. It’s my beacon to a better bod.

  • There is a residential zone right next to the Verizon Center. I know because I live there. I already look at static impression ads (which is fine), but LED billboards would keep me up all night. The neighborhood JUST started gentrifying — this would destroy property values and take the neighborhood back 10+ years.

    Think restaurants like Graffiato, national building developers like Avalon, et infinitum want to be next to flashing LED billboards? Does DC have a zoning board to control where advertising can and cannot be placed? Why is the City Council even in charge of this? What the hell?

    • If only the restaurants and other retailers who occupy some of the most expensive sq footage in the world in times square would agree.

      I think this makes sense, Chinatown is already a tourist/visitor mecca, no use fighting it.

      • Yes, the zoning in Times Square is retail. It is *the* retail mecca. The zoning at the Verizon Center isn’t. It’s very close quarters of residential, retail, and commercial. Law firms, apartment complexes, and retail establishments occupy that square mile. That’s why a zoning board is important — they have the common sense to understand that LED billboards are detrimental to business and residences, and would hurt that zone immensely.

        • Have you ever been to Times Square? There are several office buildings nearby with views of the Square in all its glory. I also know people who live nearby. And people should be able to live nearby. Undoubtedly there are some who love the vibrancy. Those who don’t live elsewhere. Shrugs.

          • Being pro-vibrancy and activity does not equate to being pro-LED billboards. That’s logic fallacy at its finest. I assure you there are no residential buildings that are at eye level with the interactive billboards in Times Square. NYC zoning prohibits it. Do some buildings (residential and commercial) receive ambiant light from them? Of course. I’m not anti-lighting. If I was, I wouldn’t live in a city, not to mention Chinatown. I’m anti being eye-level with an interactive billboard.

        • I know it has been growing quickly, but as the previous commenter mentioned, there are certainly people who want to live in the vibrancy. I know of two seperate groups of people who just moved to Chinatown and love the activity.

  • I’m all down for LED billboards. I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

  • The flashing/scrolling marquees are garish and distracting enough as it is. I don’t see why the Verizon Center should get a special exemption allowing it to add Jumbotrons. D.C. has made too many sweetheart deals with for-profit businesses as it is.

  • I’m all for the LED billboards and yes..I live/own in a building one block to the south and yes I’m aware that there might be some light outside at night. Most of these claims by Vida are the same exagerations that a condo owner not even close enough to see the building brought about earlier when this came up. The same woman who started the anti-lights campaign is on record in a PQ blog for saying she loves the nightlife in Times Sq and would be fine with owning a condo there because that’s NY of course. LOL Why do they always love what exists elsewhere but will fight any chance of it happening here??? Ugh!!!!

  • I walk by the telephone company center every day. At no time have I seen the electronic billboards operating properly. Much like the Wizards. But I say allow the billboards on 4 conditions: 1) $5000/day fine for each malfunction, and 2) no sound, 3) no stobe like effects, and 4) every impacted resident gets a piece of the revenue…

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