Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
BYLINE: Scott Kraus Of The Morning Call
In a bid to raise cash from underused city property, Allentown has hired a Bucks County company to erect up to eight digital billboards in strategic locations around the city.
The first three billboards, one-sided digital placards measuring 12 feet by 24 feet, will go up on major thoroughfares heading into and out of the city — Lehigh Street, Hamilton Boulevard and N. Seventh Street.
The company, Premier Media of Doylestown, expects to have the first billboards up by the end of the year, company principal Nick Pullen said.
“This is, I believe, the first digital network of its kind by a municipality in Pennsylvania,” Pullen said.
City Council approved the deal Wednesday night.
Premier Media will erect the billboards at its expense and share 20 percent of the advertising revenue with the city. That could amount to as much as $43,200 in annual revenue for the city if the billboards are fully booked, according to the company.
Phase 2, which would require the city to rezone some of its property, would place billboards along Interstate 78, bringing projected annual revenues of $111,000 to the city. That could happen as early as next year.
Phase 3, which would put billboards on the City Hall garage, Basin Street and the future New England Avenue, would raise the total projected annual city revenue to $163,800. If the company makes the billboards double-sided, the city’s revenue would double.
The billboards would also be used to promote city events and to convey emergency messages.
The initiative makes sense as a way to raise additional revenue, as long as the city makes sure the content of the ads on the billboards isn’t inappropriate and the locations are tasteful, said council President Julio Guridy.
City officials say such restrictions are written into the company’s contract.
“That should be part of the administration’s duties to look at how to save money for the citizens, especially in the economic downturn we are in now, to look at things that are appropriate for the city,” Guridy said.
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