The $1M billboard: City demands Astor Place building pay huge fines over 'illegal' signs
I looked into the DOB website for details regarding the violations at this site and 59 4th avenue doesn't seem to exist. This is strange, and I will look into why over the next few days.
Friday, March 27th 2009, 9:24 AM
Billboard for Boost Mobile on building at Fourth Ave. and Ninth St. in Greenwich Village may prove costly for co-op board.
It's Manhattan's million-dollar billboard.
That's nearly the amount the city is fining a coop board, billboard company and two installers over a giant sign on a building near Astor Place.
More than 70 violations - totaling $955,000 - have been doled out over the single billboard, which the Buildings Department says violates zoning laws.
The groups slapped with the hefty fines call them shockingly high since signs have been plastered on the structure for more than 70 years.
"It's absolutely outrageous, especially in this economy," said Ari Noe, CEO of OTR Media. "It's great income for the building owners."
The hubbub over the billboard, which currently advertises Boost Mobile, is the latest in a series of disputes between sign companies and the city.
Since the 1930s, a vintage sign advertising men's suit was painted on the side of the building on the corner of Ninth St. and Fourth Ave., said Patrick Curley, a member of the coop board who has lived there since 1978.
Then about six year ago, billboard companies began approaching the coop board - Fourth Avenue Loft Corp. - about placing ads there. The board charges a flat fee of $5,000 a month, which goes toward exterior improvements and other building upkeep.
Starting in 2007, inspectors began fining the coop board, OTR Media and two sign hanging companies for billboards advertising "King of the Hill" and the Turner Cartoon Network.
"Suddenly, they're noticing it. I don't understand what their reasoning is," said Curley, 57.
The violations, which come with penalties as high as $25,000, cover multiple offenses, including not having a permit, hanging an ad exceeding 500 square feet and placing the sign more than 40 feet above the curb.
Noe, though, believes the billboards should be grandfathered in since the space has continually featured advertisements for so many years.
But Buildings officials say new billboards are simply not allowed in that district.
"We will not tolerate any individuals or companies who disregard the law to make a profit," department spokesman Tony Sclafani said.
Some passersby couldn't believe the city was targeting what looks like a run-of-the-mill billboard.
A hearing about the violations is set for April 16.