Amendment Winners and Losers
A look at who wins as a result of the recently passed zoning amendment – and who pays the price.
Residents – Many residents consider these signs to be an eyesore, but the people in residential neighborhoods adjacent to large commercial buildings will bear the heaviest burden: a proliferation of big signs brightly illuminated 24 hours per day.
Small businesses – Small and medium sized businesses are not eligible for Building Identification Signs – you need to be a “substantial” tenant in a big building. But these local businesses will pay a price in the form of higher rents and dislocation as landlords seek to cash in on “sign rental” opportunities.
Walkers, runners, bikers, sailors – Everyone who enjoys the Charles – on the water or along the banks – will find a much different environment once signs start sprouting up along the river.
Big landlords – An illuminated sign atop a big building is a valuable commodity. Landlords reap the benefit of this in the form of higher rents, profiting from increased income immediately and a higher price when the property is sold.
Politicians & lobbyists – The amendment replaces the stringent zoning variance process with a much more subjective special permit process. That opens the door for politicians and lobbyists to “influence” the Planning Board. We can anticipate an increase in lobbying fees and campaign contributions to accompany the flurry of new special permit applications for signs.
Microsoft – The amendment clears a path for Microsoft to erect a large illuminated sign high above the river that will be visible to anyone viewing Cambridge from Beacon Hill or the Back Bay or entering the city via the Longfellow Bridge. And, once Microsoft sets the precedent, how many more signs will follow?