“That sign was selected by a committee,” Asheville Vice Mayor Ed Hay told City Council members during their July 13 formal session.
“It looks like it,” responded Mayor Leni Sitnick. She reported having received numerous complaints from city residents about the new sign at Pack Place and wondered if there was anything the city could do about it. “I just don’t know what to say anymore,” Sitnick lamented.
Hay, who serves on the Pack Place board, replied that there probably isn’t anything the city can do. The sign was paid for with a $50,000 grant, and Council can’t undo that commitment.
What’s more, a few years ago, City Council essentially gave Pack Place permission to erect the sign, by amending the sign ordinance to allow a marquee sign to be built in the right of way between the building and the College Street/Biltmore Avenue intersection, noted Council member Chuck Cloninger. He suggested that Council take a look at that amendment, to protect themselves against further intrusions. The Pack Place sign, he remarked, reflects no attempt by designers to blend in with downtown’s character at all.
Sitnick quipped, “I want [everyone] to know [Council member] Barbara Field had nothing do with [the design].”
Field, an architect, laughed. An early design proposal for the sign was done by the firm she works for, but Pack Place ultimately chose a nationally renowned Atlanta-based firm to design the marquee. “For those of us who design buildings, it totally obscures the front of [Pack Place],” Field complained. On the other hand, she pointed out, Pack Place has long needed a better way to inform the public about events and programs being held there, and a marquee was the natural solution.
Field also mentioned that the Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation may ask for some sort of similar signage as that project nears completion. She urged her fellow Council members to look ahead and carefully consider their options.
Council took no formal action.