Welcome to the City of Albuquerque

Central Avenue Neon Design Overlay Zone

Central Avenue Neon Design Overlay Zone (CAN DOZ)

The City of Albuquerque has adopted a Central Avenue Neon Design Overlay Zone (CAN DOZ), which covers properties with frontage along Central Avenue from 106th Street to east of Tramway Boulevard. The CAN DOZ is part of a larger strategy for revitalization along Central Avenue.  It is directly related to the encouragement of Neon signs along Route 66 to promote the history and identity of the road. The Design Overlay Zone is intended to incentivize the refurbishment of existing neon signs and the development of new neon or neon look-alike signs for properties along historic Route 66.

Background

ABQ the Plan, one of Mayor Berry’s initiatives, considered several large public projects that will shape the future of our community. The Route 66 Action Plan is one project that aims to revitalize and promote Central Avenue as a destination for both local residents and visiting tourists.

This new Design Overlay Zone is the first piece of the City’s Route 66 Action Plan to be implemented. In 2012, a series of Town Hall meetings were held and encouraging neon signs on Central Ave. was among the ideas presented to the community for comment. A neon design overlay zone is one strategy for revival of Central Avenue through the use of neon signs to promote Route 66 history and identity. The idea to incentivize neon along Route 66 was one of the best-received ideas, which resulted in the CAN DOZ.

The Design Overlay Zone applies to the refurbishment of existing neon signs and the development of new neon or neon-like signs and lighting for properties along historic Route 66.

Central Avenue Neon Design Overlay Zone (CAN DOZ)

Central Avenue is one of the original Route 66 road alignments, traversing the City from 106th Street on the west to Tramway Boulevard on the east. Signs using neon letters and images, often exuberant or humorous, have typically given way to flat back-lit or electronic panels. Signs using neon have given way to a more modern (and cheaper) plastic backlit sign, which is used to fulfill the main purpose of advertising a business.  The City adopted the CAN DOZ to develop Route 66/Central Avenue as a distinct district through the use of historic sign types that bring a sense of delight and vibrancy to the streetscape. The CAN DOZ incentivizes signs that contain at least 50% neon and that exhibit design creativity or innovation. Design can be “retro”, contemporary or futuristic.  The intent is that people will be attracted to travel along Central Avenue because of the unique atmosphere created by a string of neon signs.

The CAN DOZ provides special design guidance for signage along Route 66, but without unduly interfering with other design controls that may exist with existing zoning and/or sector development plans. The regulations and incentives apply to applicants requesting to rehabilitate an existing neon sign or develop a sign with at least 50% of the sign face area using neon or neon-like tubing.  The Design Overlay Zone incentivizes neon signs by:

Size and Height Bonuses

Sign Size: Free-standing and projecting sign area may be up to 50% over the sign area allowed in the underlying zone, up to a maximum of 250 SF. Building-mounted signs may be up to 25% larger than the sign allowed in the underlying zone.

Sign Height: Free-standing signs are allowed to be up to 30 feet, which is slightly higher than the current height limit of 26 feet tall. A building-mounted sign can be up to 10% taller than the building height, up to a maximum height of 35 feet tall. There are some limitations for neon signs mounted on buildings in front of residential uses, so the sign would not be a nuisance to residents.

Animation

Traditional neon illumination, such as a sequential change in the illumination of the tubes or bulbs, is allowed for signs that comply with the design requirements of the CAN DOZ. However, flashing lights and physical movement of a sign and/or its elements do not qualify as animation.

Permit Fee Waiver

General Sign Regulations have been amended to waive permit fees for signs that comply with the CAN DOZ. The typical City fees associated with the erection of a sign include sign permit, plan check, electric, and building permit fees. The sign permit fee is the largest expense charged by the City. Currently, the Zoning Code requires $.70 per square foot of the largest sign face of a sign or $70, whichever is more. This fee is waived for signs that comply with the CAN DOZ design criteria.

Sign Type – Free-standing signs in Nob Hill/Highland Sector Plan Area

The City of Albuquerque has amended the Nob Hill/ Highland Sector Development Plan (NHHSDP), to add free-standing pole mounted signs, if the sign complies with the CAN DOZ regulations, as an allowable signage type in the General Regulations of the NHHSDP (page 103). This text amendment will allow business owners the option of a sign that can be free-standing and pole mounted.  These free-standing signs would be regulated by the O-1 zone, which limits the size of the sign to 75 square feet and to a height of 26 feet or the height of the tallest building on the site, whichever is lower. The text amendment to the NHHSDP is proposed to provide another option for business owners to promote their business while still following sign regulations on height and location.

The CAN DOZ is a stand-alone document that is adopted as part of the Zoning Code, and mapped as a Design Overlay Zone. The Design Overlay Zone details can be reviewed at the City Planning Department offices in downtown Albuquerque at the Plaza del Sol Building or at the link below:

CAN DOZ Application Process

To see if your property is located within the new Design Overlay Zone and if it qualifies for the incentives offered by the CAN DOZ, please contact Russell Brito, Urban Design & Development Manager at 924-3337 to discuss the design requirements. The City offers a Design Review Team meeting focused on design and helping designers and applicants to understand and meet the City’s various architectural and site layout standards.

Related Amendments: Sign Fee Waiver

Larger neon signs have a more dramatic impact and are more costly, which is why the City is offering increased incentives to design and install neon signs provided they comply with the Qualifying Design Criteria provided in the CAN DOZ. General Sign Regulations have been amended to waive permit fees for signs that comply with the CAN DOZ as another incentive. The typical City fees associated with the erection of a sign include sign permit fees, plan check fees, and building permit fees. The sign permit fee is the largest expense charged by the City. Currently, the Zoning Code requires $.70 per square foot of the largest sign face of a sign or $70, whichever is more. This fee is waived for signs that comply with the CAN DOZ design criteria.

Related Amendments: Nob Hill/Highland Area Pole-Mounted Signs

The City of Albuquerque has amended the Nob Hill/ Highland Sector Development Plan (NHHSDP), to add free-standing pole mounted signs, if the sign complies with the CAN DOZ regulations, as an allowable signage type in the General Regulations of the NHHSDP (page 103). This text amendment will allow business owners the option of a sign that can be free-standing and pole mounted.  These free-standing signs would be regulated by the O-1 zone, which limits the size of the sign to 75 square feet and to a height of 26 feet or the height of the tallest building on the site, whichever is lower. The text amendment to the NHHSDP is proposed to provide another option for business owners to promote their business while still following sign regulations on height and location.

 

 

Document Actions