chicago politics

City officials debate addition of digital billboards to Chicago Riverwalk

The proposal would require approval from the full Chicago City Council

NBC Universal, Inc.

Members of Chicago City Council are debating if digital billboards could be headed to the tourist-friendly Chicago Riverwalk as officials look to raise much needed revenue.

There are currently restrictions regarding billboards placed within 100 feet of Chicago's waterways, with nearby residents voicing mixed opinions regarding the possibility of digital billboards on the Riverwalk.

"I'm all for it. I don't want to keep it bland and the same, I'm all about fast-paced and advancement," resident Steve Olopo said. Another resident said that the bright lights emitted by the billboards would interrupt the view of the city and its recognizable architecture.

Sixth Ward Ald. William Hall, who chairs the subcommittee that explores alternative revenue ideas, spoke in support of the proposal.

"We must remember that the Chicago River was the place for trade [and] messaging when it was first started," Hall said.

In addition to the Riverwalk, Hall said that billboards could also possibly go up in empty downtown storefronts.

Hall specified that he would not seek for the city to sell the space outright, similar to the way Chicago's government paid a one-time fee for Chicago's parking meter and Skyway deals.

"We're not here to take away from what makes the Riverwalk amazing, but to add to the Riverwalk," Hall said.

A City Council subcommittee is slated to meet June 26 to consider whether to expand the advertising.

The proposal would then still require approval from the full City Council.

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