What kind of signage do WE want?

Although we were assured in 2005 that there would be no scrolling LED sign at the Walgreens that now graces the gateway to our “village,” this type of sign is likely to rear its ugly head again. If you care about what kind of “look and feel” our traditional village streetscape has, you may want to attend the public hearing (details below).

Following is one of the more benign Walgreens designs. We can already see the metal “awnings” on the building, and windows that are not transparent to the interior. Does this design blend well with the Palace, Pomco’s recent improvements, or the facades of the two independent bookstores we have?

View from James Street looking east:Gateway to Eastwood

View from Grant Blvd. looking toward James St.:View from Grant Ave

Any one of the following Walgreens signs could be your gateway to Eastwood. Which one works best with the character of the street?
(Use your browser’s “back” button to return here.)

View 1View 2 View 3 View 4 View 5

View 6 View 7 View 8 View 9

This is where you want to be if you’re concerned about what they’re proposing:

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN, that a public hearing will be held Tuesday, March 17, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. in the Common Council Chambers, City Hall, Syracuse, New York to consider in full or in part the following applications:

7) Application No. AS-08-33, for a Sign Waiver of area, type, and number, on property situated at 2327 James Street, owned by Five Point Development Grant, zoned Local Business, Class A, pursuant to Part C, Section X, of the City of Syracuse Zoning Rules and Regulations, as amended.

NOTE that this is on a Tuesday, not the usual Monday meeting.

The James Street Overlay District Guidelines, which are a part of the Syracuse Comprehensive Plan (both available on the home page of this website) states the following about signs:

g. Signs:
(1) Each business shall be permitted to have one wall or projecting sign on each façade facing a street. The maximum area of each sign (including both faces of a projecting sign) shall be one (1) square foot for each linear foot of the façade width. No signs shall be permitted on facades not facing a street. Projecting signs shall have a minimum clearance above finished grade of at least seven (7) feet and shall project no more than six (6) feet  beyond the face of the building. Ground signs and signs above the first floor shall not be permitted. Animated signs and roof signs shall be prohibited and shall not be subject to review as Exceptions. All illuminated signs shall be turned off when the businesses being identified are closed.

When the public shows up at planning commission meetings, they can have an effect on the outcome. If you own property or pay rent in Eastwood, your voice is especially vital at this time.

Whatever is decided about Walgreens will set a precedent for the corner of James and Midler.

Later addition to post:

Councilor for District 5 Lance Denno would like us to know the following:

I will be attending the Planning Commission Public Hearing on Tuesday, 17th.  It is, as Lonnie says, best to have plenty of warm bodies there.  But if anyone wants to submit a statement and is not able to attend, I would be willing to take those statements with me and submit them for the record – reading as many as time permits.

All statements must include the writer’s name and address. They may be submitted to me at ldenno@ci.syracuse.ny.us

Lance Denno, District Councilor

Human-scaled Walgreens sign
Human-scaled Walgreens sign

Note to planning commission: You are not alone. Schenectady is also facing precisely the same issues.

January 8, 2009

— The Board of Zoning Appeals stuck to its guns Wednesday night and rejected the Walgreens application as virtually identical to the State Street plan it had previously denied.

“What’s different about this plan?” asked BZA Chairman James Gleason.

The board voted 5-0, with two members absent, to require Walgreens to file a new application if it wants to try again.

The pharmacy has been waging a war against the city’s new comprehensive plan for almost a year now, in hopes of getting the city to waive its new rules that ban suburban-style designs. The city’s new comprehensive plan calls for a pedestrian-friendly city, with buildings placed near the sidewalk, parking lots behind buildings and far fewer drive-throughs.


9 thoughts on “What kind of signage do WE want?”

  1. The best by far is No. 5. I could settle for No. 2. The rest of them are atrocious. I cannot attend the hearing, but I hope you give ‘em hell!

  2. The nine views of Walgreens signs don’t offer much, but view 8 is the most appropriate.
    Let’s hear it for Schenectady! That city has struggled, but is “sticking to its guns” for the development it wants!
    Thanks for all the info, webmaster!

  3. Everyone can help a bit more by writing letters – to the mayor, to Common Councilors, to the Post-Standard. The addresses are all on this site under the “Action” button in the top navigation bar.

  4. This comment is more about the state of various run-down, dilapidated, vacant buildings that are very prominent and bringing down the whole neighborhood. Buildings for which valid buyers have offered a fair price, yet owners refuse to sell. Buildings whose owners have neglected to the point that tenants have moved out, and no one will rent space in them. Buildings whose owners are delinquent on property taxes.

    I get a nasty letter if there’s any hiccup with the payment of property taxes on my humble $80,000 home. I get a parking ticket if I am on the wrong side of the street at 6:05. But apparently a million dollar building can sit there blighting up the neighborhood with delinquent taxes with no consequences.

    What the hell, Syracuse? THIS is why people move away from upstate New York. You want to know why? This is why.

    Can we PLEASE get some leadership in this city? Can we please get a mayor, or some more council members, who will stand up to these jerks who are tanking our property values? Please?

    Eastwood residents are paying attention, mayoral candidates. Impress us.

  5. This post about signage has sparked quite a discussion in our email group about the larger issues that face not only Eastwood, but every neighborhood in Syracuse. Law-abiding, tax-paying residents are fed up with being left out of the processes that affect the way our neighborhoods are developed. I have met far too many people who think TNT is a joke rather than a means by which residents can effect sustainable change and I’ve heard far too many complaints about laws and codes that are enforced only when the target is a small one. I look forward to hearing some fresh ideas about empowering the residents of this city.

  6. The Eastwood neighborhood’s James Street zoning overlay design rules are not holding James St. back; they position Eastwood for a better future, and they should be upheld and enforced. Good rules and their consistent enforcement provide the stable, predictable, quality environment that good developers (and residents) desire.

    It’s the incremental, case-by-case exceptions that will eat away at the rules until they are worthless. Even “minor” proposals like the currrent Walgreens signage plan are decision points, and poor decisions can add up quickly, both in degraded street character and in forever-weakened design rules.

  7. While the Director of Planning in the Town of Big Flats, I participated on a regional task force that was convened by the Town Attorney. The task force comprised of Real Estate Professionals (read Developers), Attorneys, various public officials, Members from various Planning and Zoning Boards from the surrounding towns, Empire Zone and County Staff. An anti-blight law resulted and was adopted by the Town of Big Flats. However, since I left, I am not sure if the other surrounding Towns also adopted the resulting law. The point is that it was a regional effort and though there are controversial concepts, at least all were in agreement with the results and that something needed to be done.

    A key feature of the law is a demolition surety (probably the most polemic issue at the time), meaning that if the property owners did not meet the requirements within three years, then they were required to put up a demolition surety to cover the costs of demolition. It should be noted that vacant buildings involve more than just a Code Enforcement action (which is the most apparent remedy). In addition, health safety standards, criminal and civil violations are involved. Therefore, there are a whole cluster of issues associated with vacant buildings requiring several agency responses. In fact, each known abandoned residential property may involve 20 or more city actions and cost taxpayers nearly $12,000 over a five-year period, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension Association report cited in Buffalo’s Blueprint (see link below).

    Eastwood’s Design Guidelines are the result of a publically vetted zoning law and to change them would require yet another public vetting. Those who believe that a suburban single-purpose standalone structure plopped down in the middle of a dense urban area in Eastwood is going to stimulate economic opportunity are uninformed and are in denial of the facts. The problem is NOT that a new tenant or new developer will not adhere to the design guidelines because they “have to have a parking lot in front”. Regarding the Steak N Sundae property, the reality is that it is a derelict property and that it is contributing to the decline of Eastwood and THIS is precisely why few will want to invest in Eastwood development along James Street.

    Finally, if there is to be anything done about vacant and abandoned buildings, the City of Syracuse needs to be more aggressive. They are really behind on this one. See the following links:
    http://www.vacantproperties.org/technical/programs/buffalo.html Buffalo’s program.

  8. None of the views offered appeal to me. Scroll a little further down the page and you’ll see a Walgreens “human scale sign.” There’s my vote.

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