Billboard company appeals denial

Two-sided outdoor ad would mar Southbank views

By Lara Patangan
Resident Community News

A rendering of a two-sided billboard with an ad for Subway sandwiches may be a sign of what may come for residents living on the Southbank as CBS Outdoor appeals a denial to relocate a billboard to Kings Avenue in San Marco.

Originally rejected by the Downtown Development Review Board, CBS appealed to the Downtown Investment Authority last month for resolution. After three hours of debate, the issue was deferred until a workshop could be held and the volumes of material could be studied.

At issue is a static billboard that was removed on the north side of I-95 as part of the Overland Bridge project. Its owners want to put up a replacement billboard that would mar the view of residents living in area high rises as well as the unimpeded view of the Downtown skyline that drivers traveling north on I-95 finally access.
The proposed two-sided billboard, which shows an ad for Subway in the CBS rendering, would ruin the views of residents living in The Strand, The Peninsula and San Marco Place Condominiums.

Jane Condon, a resident of San Marco Place since 2007 and founding principal of La Villa School of the Arts, enjoys the beautiful views of downtown from her condo and thinks erecting the billboard on Kings Avenue would be a step backwards for the revitalization of Downtown by defacing its skyline.

Condon said when she was principal at La Villa, which is located Downtown, they were prohibited from even putting a sign with announcements of student activities in front of the school and can’t believe the city would consider this huge billboard that will be seen in San Marco, Downtown and from the interstate.

“I object from my own point of view, pun intended, but also for people of Jacksonville. I don’t think we should be going in that direction,” Condon said. “Why are we even debating something less attractive than what we want to make our Downtown into? It’s a shame we have to convince people to not ugly up the city.”

Alicia Grant, an Avondale resident who was one of the founding directors of Scenic Advocates for Jacksonville, is opposed to the potential billboard on Kings Avenue and Draft Ordinance 2013-493, which could reverse components of a 1987 charter amendment passed by a voter referendum which stopped the construction of new billboards and removed hundred of others from neighborhood roadways.

“Our feeling is that it’s like putting lipstick on a pig,” Grant said. “It’s a bad, unnecessary bill. We get used to ugly and we shouldn’t. There are a lot of people invested in the aesthetics of our City and billboards are not the way to go.”

Jim Rinaman III, of Rinaman and Associates, is one of those investors.
He bought the Kings Avenue property where his law firm is located in 2006 and has bought other properties in the area he plans to develop.
Rinaman said he is just one of several business owners who have faced setbacks in the area including the year-long construction on King’s Avenue, and the pounding from the Overland Bridge project. He does not want to add a vinyl 65-foot billboard as another obstacle in the neighborhood’s redevelopment.
“The sign is an unwelcome intrusion into the aesthetic of our neighborhood. No one wants that in their view,” Rinaman explained. “ There is a lot of hope right now of that area being redeveloped.”

Ultimately Rinaman thinks billboards are bad for the neighborhood and the City.
“I believe the voters in the city expressed that already and I suspect if they voted again today they would say the same thing,” said Rinaman, a resident of Riverside. “It’s bad for the community.”

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