Allentown Residents Protest Proposed Digital Billboard Across From Hockey Arena

billboardSeveral Allentown, Pennsylvania residents have been speaking up about their opposition to a 11-by-14-foot digital billboard that is expected to go up across from the new hockey arena. While businesses in the local area have supported the move, local residential response has been more tepid.

Many residents were not impressed by the comparisons that the site’s developer, J.B. Reilly, made to Times Square, arguing that it’s not the type of environment every city wants to emulate. “Quite frankly, Times Square looks very cheap with this type of signage all over the place,” said local Shane Fillman. “Signs like this really do cheapen an area.” Many residents consequently spoke up during the July 21 meeting of the Allentown Zoning Hearing Board, during which the public was invited to share its views.

The billboard, if it is approved, will occupy the second story of the Two City Center building. The final vote is expected to take place on August 18. Last month, the Allentown Planning Commission had unanimously recommended that the zoning board choose to approve the digital sign.

J.B. Reilly, who is president and developer of City Center Lehigh Valley, argues that the change would be a positive one. “We think it brings a lot of energy to the downtown; a type of energy that a lot of vibrant downtown areas have,” he stated in an interview with LehighValleyLive.

Opposing residents disagree, however, and most cite issues of tackiness, surrounding neighborhood aesthetics, and traffic distractions. “The [current] architecture of the new buildings and the old architecture really complimenting each other,” said Diane Teti. “But I don’t think this billboard is complimenting anything except somebody’s wallet.”

“We’re very sensitive to that,” says Reilly regarding the concerns of the downtown area’s historic architecture. He argues that the billboard is fairly small, and that there are no plans for billboards on any other City Center buildings.