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Planning Commission Approves Majority of Proposed Signs in North Harbor Sign Plan

March 4, 2022

Downtown Partnership of Baltimore (DPOB) proposed the North Harbor Area of Special Signage Control (ASSC) because it is consistent with our long-standing commitment to the vibrancy and appeal of Baltimore’s Downtown. We strongly believe the ASSC is a powerful opportunity to energize and enliven Downtown, and extensive public testimony in support of the Signage Plan shows that many stakeholders agree.

We are excited and encouraged that the Planning Commission approved the majority of the proposed signs in the NoHa Sign Plan. As a result, six digital billboards were approved and are now allowed on the following properties:

  • 601 E. Pratt Street
  • 30 Light Street
  • 100 S. Charles Street (Pratt Street Side)
  • 300 S. Charles Street
  • 55 Market Place
  • 204 E. Lombard Street

*Scroll to the end of the article for renderings of all approved signs.

The remaining five properties in the sign plan were given thoughtful consideration by Planning Staff and Commissioners, will undergo further consideration with possible amendments, and will be heard in a subsequent hearing soon.

The NoHa Sign Plan was created out of the interest to bring light, art and vitality to our commercial district. A vision of large format signs was formed out of agreement amongst property owners, and with help from our partners at the Planning Department and experts in the urban planning field, DPOB used this as a catalyst for greater visibility to the Downtown business district. As stewards of that boundary, we took the lead on the initiative by creating and managing the plan that was put before the Commission.

We want to be clear, while votes have made this possible for several properties, this is just the beginning. There is still a rigorous permitting process that each sign will have to follow to qualify for permits. DPOB is forming a Community Advisory Panel to help oversee the district. Then, landlords and media companies will work through the logistics of their sign installs, which we are hearing could take up to a year.

We are committed to sharing real-time updates, receiving feedback, and partnering to make Baltimore better. Here are a few additional facts we want share:

  1. The NoHa sign plan was guided by DPOB, with thousands of hours of research, interviews with industry experts, and feedback from other cities.
  2. Landlords picked their own media companies, also known as tenants for this purpose. Contracts with their tenants are private engagements.
  3. DPOB will manage the community space on all signs in the NoHa District ASSC that were approved.
  4. Media companies are subject to the Baltimore City Billboard Tax and will pay that directly to the City.
  5. There are no public monies or tax dollars supporting this program.

There has been much talk of private services agreement and we want to be completely forthright. DPOB realized that by entering into agreements with media companies who are working with property owners, we could achieve a more coordinated approach and, most importantly, obtain additional benefits for Downtown beyond what the City’s ASSC law requires.  These benefits include reserved time for civic and artistic content, branded use of multiple signs for special events (such as CIAA or World Cup), and contributions from the companies to Downtown activities.  Media companies are not required to enter into these agreements to submit an ASSC sign plan of their own for consideration, but they are required to do so in the NoHa Sign plan as it is DPOB’s sign plan and we support and promote all signs in our sign plan. So far, media companies have agreed to do so to ensure the NoHa ASSC provides both community and civic benefits in addition to commercial ones.

We remain excited about the future of the NoHa ASSC and its contribution to Baltimore’s Downtown and our entire city, and we are committed to making Downtown Baltimore a thriving destination of choice for all through several initiatives and well-rounded support services.

Approved Sign Renderings

601 E. Pratt Street


 

30 Light Street


 

100 S. Charles Street (Pratt Street Side)


 

300 S. Charles Street


 

55 Market Place


 

204 E. Lombard Street