September 17, 2014

Mayor Emanuel Announces Proposed Ordinance To Establish A Chicago River Corridor Special Sign District

New Standards Will Ensure that the Chicago River is Protected from Signage that Negatively Impacts the Visual Environment

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that he and Alderman Brendan Reilly will propose an ordinance to establish the Chicago River Special Sign District, which outlines new regulations and standards for high-rise building signs and other signage along the Chicago River. The ordinance, expected to be introduced to City Council in October, will ensure that high-rise building signage does not interfere with the safe enjoyment and functions of the river.

“As we move to transform the Chicago River into Chicago’s next great waterfront, we want to ensure that the riverfront is protected from signage that negatively impacts the visual environment” said Mayor Emanuel. “This ordinance will allow visitors and residents of Chicago to continue enjoying our world-renowned architecture along the river.”

The proposed District will cover the Chicago River from Roosevelt Road on the south to Kinzie Street on the north and Lake Shore Drive on the east, and all lots with street frontage on Wacker Drive from Lake Street to Lake Shore Drive. The proposed ordinance will not impact signs currently in place within the proposed District.

The ordinance will issue the following regulations:

• No more than one high-rise building sign is allowed on any building and these signs will count towards the maximum total allowable sign area for the building.
• High-rise building signs will be limited to identification for the principal tenant of the building.
• High-rise building signs will be limited to a maximum 550 square feet for a building with a height or 500 feet or more.
• High-rise building signs must be located directly below the highest roof line of the building and may not be internally or externally illuminated.
• Only “halo-lit” lettering, back-lit letters that create a glow of light around the letter by illuminating the wall surface from within, will be allowed.
• For other signage on a building, no sign can be located more than two stories above grade on the building side facing the Chicago River.
• All signs must be affixed on building walls, projecting no more than 12 inches from the building’s façade.
To ensure that the buildings along the Chicago River enhance the integrity of the area, banners, neon signs, flashing signs, dynamic imaging displays, roof signs, painted wall signs and off-premise signs will not be allowed.