Ann Arbor
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Save The Beer Depot Sign!

Help us restore this:

Sign Damage

To its original glory:

Beer Depot Sign - Photo By Spencer Thomas
Photo By Spencer Thomas

The Red Tape

If you’re not familiar with what happened to the landmark Beer Depot sign, find out here. So why isn’t the sign back up? Well, when the sign was blown down, our first plan was to create an authentic replica using as many of the original parts as possible. This simply would not fly with the city; it would be considered a “new” sign, even if it were exactly the same shape, dimensions, and colors, and used some of the original parts. When we told the sign company, they said “well, we can do a restoration, but it will be pretty expensive”. We ran this by the city, but the basic answer was still no, with one caveat: Planning Manager Wendy Rampson was kind enough to point out a possible angle. Although the reason the sign couldn’t go back up was that the sign didn’t meet the “height, size and setback requirements of Chapter 61, the City’s sign ordinance“, the ordinance also specifies that “no nonconforming sign shall be repaired or erected after being damaged if the repair or erection of the sign would cost more than 50 percent of the cost of an identical new sign.” This meant that if the cost of restoring the sign were less than half the cost of an all-new replacement, we could probably get approval. The problem? We probably could have fudged numbers, but lying is wrong, and any honest sign company will tell you that there was no way those numbers would work in our favor. So we got a “nay” from the city. On their behalf, they did this without making us jump through all the clerical hoops involved. The next step? The Sign Board of Appeals. More on that here if you’re interested.

Posted By:Admin September 7, 2011

Read Comments

  1. Posted by James C. Walker on 10.03.11 11:23 am

    Of course, appeal. There are very few of these historic signs around town and they are an integral part of our city and history. Another was the Big 10 Party Store sign that was saved by public opinion when the store changed hands a few years ago. With luck, common sense and reason will prevail and your sign will go back up.

  2. Posted by Chris Groscurth on 07.30.12 8:49 pm

    What’s interesting about the Big 10 Party store sign is that it was restored this summer by Morgan and York. Both are within Ann Arbor city limits. Something to look into, however, code might very within the downtown area.

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