Claremont to revisit design of Old School House signs

It’s back to the drawing board for the Old School House monument signs, at least in look if not in stature.

Just months after the 12-foot promotional signs received approval by the architectural commission, officials are taking a second review due to deviations from what was initially approved. 

“There are a couple things with the signs that weren’t built according to plan,” acknowledged Brian Desatnik, director of community development. “We need to work through these things with the owners. But it depends on the extent of the changes whether or not it will require additional review [at the commission/council level].”

The height of the signs will remain intact, but the appearance will get a slight modification. The multicolored exterior will be traded in for a muted yellow, blue and beige backdrop consistent with neighboring signage, according to James Sink, chair of the architectural commission. He noted, specifically, the agreement had been to mimic the coloring of the checkers on the nearby Citibank sign.

The signs’ text is the second deviation from the initial agreement, according to Mr. Sink. The sign face was to have slightly raised acrylic lettering. The built sign did not and will need to be fixed, not to exceed more than one line of text on each panel as is currently in place.

Commissioners also hope to address complaints of the signs’ brightness. While the sign is currently illuminated by backlighting, officials seek to tone down the light by moving to “halo-illuminated lettering,” creating a soft glow behind each letter instead of lighting up the entire sign.

While the height of the signs will not change, to the dismay of some, Mr. Sink believes the underlying details of the structures should create an overall appealing product despite their size.  

“Revising details to match that sign more closely might improve the overall character of the monument signs,” he said. “The signs are going to be large, therefore the details of how they are constructed are extraordinarily important.”

Monument signs for Claremont shopping centers have become more abundant in recent years with the introduction of the Multi-Tenant Retail Center Sign Enhancement Program, which provides flexibility for shopping center tenants looking for a little extra visibility.

While multi-tenant signs are no longer restricted, they are also not altogether welcomed in all parts of the city. The Village District, for example, is completely restricted and all other areas are subject to architectural commission review and approval. And while looking to help out Claremont’s business folk, commissioners say they still keep the character of Claremont at the forefront of their decisions.

“Some members of the community felt the monument sign at OSH does not live up to the quality, spirit and vitality of the businesses in the Old School House,” Mr. Sink said, recognizing the shopping center is “an extremely important corner in our city.”

“While it is difficult to go back to the owner and tenants to discuss how to make changes to a sign that is already constructed, the sentiment we received from the community was ‘this has to be fixed,’” Mr. Sink said. “This development deserves signage that respects the historic character while providing effective and attractive identification for the tenants.”

—Beth Hartnett


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