Bart Blatstein faces sign fight near Delaware Riverfront

A developer’s proposal to put signs on a building along Interstate 95 in Pennsport is challenging the city’s zoning laws for the Delaware River waterfront and drawing the ire of some community members.

Bart Blatstein, the developer behind the Piazza at Schmidt’s and the Pier 70 Shopping Center on Christopher Columbus Boulevard, proposes wrapping three non-accessory signs around a building on Columbus Boulevard that has been vacant for more than a decade. The project needs a zoning variance, partly because of its proximity to homes, but is also prohibited under a 2009 law that prevents haphazard zoning along the up-and-coming waterfront.

Pennsport Civic Association supports the signs, but the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight and other neighbors said the project would be hideous.

“If you plaster the place with signs it’s sort of dehumanizing,” said Steve Weixler of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group.

Blatstein argues that the signs would be temporary and help generate money to redevelop the building.

“Part of the reason why [it is] undeveloped is because it was built as an industrial building. Industrial is no longer relevant there,” said Robert Patterson, the lawyer representing the project, noting that the building is zoned as commercial. “At some point, Bart can see what the appropriate use will be for the building.”

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