top50stl economic development idea of the week: Building Wraps

A few weeks ago, I wrote about painting the giant grain elevator near IKEA in an effort to make it function as either a piece of art or some type of billboard. During my research into whether something like that is even possible, I was told that advertisements on buildings in Saint Louis are illegal, or at the least need a special permit that is only granted for thirty days at a time. However, I doubt this has always been the case because I’ve seen plenty of faded advertisements on buildings throughout the city. I’m curious to find out what the procedure would be to not only get a permit for an advertisement on a building, but also to change the law so that exterior advertisements are allowed.

Speaking of building exteriors, there was a great article on Urban Review | Saint Louis this week about the parking garages surrounding Kiener Plaza. It’s a timely piece since renovations just began to revamp the space along with the overall CityArchRiver project. In the article, Steve Patterson argues that the current garages are lacking in aesthetics and may need a facelift. Several suggestions were made both in the article and in the comments section, but it seems many of the suggestions (just like painting a grain elevator) may be slightly impractical or at the least too expensive.

Something I thought of for both the grain elevator and other buildings in St. Louis could also apply to the Kiener Plaza garages. My idea is a building wrap, similar to a car wrap but on a much bigger scale. We see billboards plastered all along our highways and I’m guessing that several billboards stuck together could make a much larger picture. Don’t they have giant ads in Times Square? But, as opposed to a giant advertisement, I am proposing a giant façade, much like the mural painted on the Sheraton Hotel located next to Scottrade. The mural adds depth and character to an otherwise blank space. Why couldn’t we attach a giant billboard (or building wrap) that essentially serves the same purpose? It wouldn’t be permanent and could even be updated from time to time the same way billboards are updated.

I like the idea of wrapping buildings because there are a lot of dilapidated buildings in St. Louis that could use a face-lift, especially near the CityArchRiver project. I’d love to see many of these buildings revitalized or removed but maybe in the meantime, we could wrap them to look like new buildings. It would be an instant upgrade to the city!

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