GM was out on M St last weekend walking over to the Georgetown Running Company to pick out some new running shoes when he came across the garish billboard seen above. It’s been applied to the windows of the currently vacant space between North Face and the (also vacant) Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory. The building is owned by East Banc.
The ad is for a beer called “Landshark Lager” an Anheuser-Busch beer made for Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant. While the yellow parts of the sign above are plastic adhesive signs, the black rectangle is actually a big screen TV playing ads for the beer:
This sign almost certainly breaks the law. While some building can get away with huge signs announcing their impending opening (like there was at the North Face store) this doesn’t appear to be announcing any new establishment. That is, at least GM hopes it’s not. We don’t need something as incredibly cheesy as a Margaritaville in Georgetown.
A sign like this would need to be approved by the Old Georgetown Board (See clarification below). According the the OGB’s minutes, there was no such approval granted. And GM would be incredibly surprised had approval been granted. The OGB slaps down applicants when their lettering is a few inches too tall. There is no way they’d approve a billboard like this, especially with the television. (GM’s uncertain whether it would also need approval from DDOT. For what it’s worth there have been no public space permits issued recently for this property. Either way it would still need approval from the OGB.)
While you might not find this sign particularly egregious, allowing it to stay would set a bad precedent. In this market downturn, Georgetown has several large empty buildings. If each one were to rent its windows out to Madison Ave. it would create a whole bunch of visual pollution.
UPDATE: GM heard word that the legality of the sign is a little more complicated than he first thought. Apparently it won’t fall under OGB jurisdiction until it’s been there 60 days. However, it is likely governed by the Historical Preservation Review Board and there is no record of the HPRB approving the signage during any recent meeting.