Albuquerque officials want to encourage businesses to add neon lights that will lighten up Central Avenue along the city’s 15-mile stretch of historic Route 66.
The City Council last week approved a package of proposals for incentives. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Mayor Richard Berry intends to sign the proposals.
The proposals would allow larger and taller neon signs along the stretch of Central Avenue within city limits. Also, permit fees for neon signs would be waived if the signs meet design guidelines.
Berry and other supporters said adding more neon would make the area vibrant and encourage businesses to create interesting things to see.
Berry, whose administration sent the proposals to the council, said he hopes the changes will “allow businesses to create more iconic images up and down Central Avenue.”
City Councilor Isaac Benton cast the only vote against part of the package, saying it’s unpredictable how things could work out.
“My concern is that the historic signs are going to be lost in the sea of new pseudo-historic signs,” Benton said
Benton, who did support allowing more flexibility for neon signs in the Nob Hill and Highland area, said it’s not easy to determine “what’s creative and expressive and what’s just garish.”
Councilor Rey Garduno predicted the businesses will regulate themselves because they’ll want something that appeals to their areas.
“They’re trying to enhance what they have,” Garduno said.
Russell Brito, a city planning official, said the proposals center on incentives and don’t require anyone to use neon.
“We’re just hoping for a glowing reception from the business community,” he said. “Pun definitely intended.”