Detroit Looks To OK Themed Lights Atop RenCen
DETROIT (AP) – Tiger stripes could soon be shimmering across the downtown skyline if Detroit officials agree to revamp a zoning ordinance to allow local sports logos and other electronic themes to shine atop the Renaissance Center’s towers.
The Detroit Planning Commission and the property managers of RenCen, General Motors’ world headquarters, are looking at amending the city code so that themed, multi-colored bands of light could join recently added solid rings of green, blue and red on the buildings, City Council planner Gregory Moots said. A report on the issue was expected Thursday before a council committee.
Since earlier this year, the winding light bands around the main tower and four smaller towers have drawn colorful attention to the city’s downtown riverfront.
On some occasions, electronic LED GM logo signs near the top of the main building changed to show the logos of baseball’s Detroit Tigers or hockey’s Detroit Red Wings – something that was not included in the zoning agreement with the city.
GM wants to continue using the display and huge electronic signs to highlight city events, Moots said.
“They want something decorative. That’s what we’re working on,” he said. “We support the civic natured signs. We’re trying to figure out how we craft that.”
A request was made last month to jazz up the light display, said Jehan Crump-Gibson, spokeswoman for Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins.
“Everyone is working together. They are trying to do everything by the book,” Crump-Gibson said.
GM spokesman Alan Adler said the company considers the new LED lighting system a means for expressing its ties to the community. Already, the signs have been used to mark the Tigers’ opening day and the Red Wings’ appearance in the NHL playoffs, Adler said.
“It’s generally seen as a connection point to the city,” he said.
Detroit shares a special relationship with the automaker, which is a strong supporter of the often-struggling city and attempts to turn things around, said Mayor Dave Bing spokeswoman, Karen Dumas.
GM moved into the riverfront complex in 1996, then bought its previously leased RenCen headquarters for $626 million in 2008. But slow auto sales and an unforgiving global economy led to down times for the company and, in 2009, GM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and went through a slow restructuring.
At a time when the city rapidly was losing jobs, GM opted last year not to move its corporate offices and 3,000 of its workers from the RenCen to suburban Warren.
“GM represents, both literally and figuratively, a beacon of light in the city of Detroit – the hope, promise and potential of our city,” Dumas said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)