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The Rockford fights to keep its signs

Posted June 4, 2014
Updated June 5, 2014

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— The Rockford, a restaurant in the Glenwood South district, has improved its visibility from a nondescript sign on its door to its name painted twice in large letters atop the Glenwood Avenue building.

“It’s not garish and thank goodness it’s not flashing neons,” said Kelly Watson while dining at the restaurant.

The change has led to increased profits and plenty of positive feedback – except from the City of Raleigh.

Turns out the sign is too big and violates the city’s sign ordinance.

“They are saying the sign can only match the square footage of our door,” said Jason Tran, Rockford chef and general manager.

That could be a problem – the restaurant is on the second floor.

The city’s planning department said the restaurant didn’t get a permit for the paintings. Now, owners of The Rockford are fighting to keep the signs and have asked the community to help by signing a petition, which has received over 1,000 signatures.

The owners also requested a variance, which would allow the signs to stay. The request is currently under review by the city’s Board of Adjustment.

The basic rule is that signs must be 2 square feet for every 1 linear foot of wall it’s attached to, said Travis Crane, the city’s planning and zoning administrator. The Rockford’s signs are roughly 250 square feet on one wall and about 80 feet on the other, Crane said.

The building, located at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and North Street, is 54 feet wide on one side and 73 feet wide on the other, Crane said. Even with the full amount of signage allowed, the sign is still too big, Crane said.

The situation is the “poster child” for why ordinance changes are needed, said city councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin, who hopes the city and the restaurant can find a solution.

A task force is currently reviewing the city’s sign ordinance.

“One of the things they are looking at is how can we allow more creativity,” Baldwin said. “It's a balance between allowing creativity and keeping the community beautiful.”

If the signs must be removed, it could cost the restaurant up to $10,000, Tran said.


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  • Alex25 Jun 5, 2014

    Govts and their control freaks have to get in the way don't they .... ugh.

  • Forthe Newssite Jun 5, 2014
    user avatar

    Leave the sign ALONE!!! it's on the building, not tacky or neon....The sign ordinance is a bit ridiculous --- the size of the door? Please!!!

  • dwntwnboy2 Jun 5, 2014

    They are in good taste and don't distract from the look of the area. I saw them and wasn't even sure they were new- just figured I hadn't looked up and seen them before. City should work with businesses to find a solution that works for everyone- maybe they can offset the oversize sign with some public art or something like that.

  • RAA0013 Jun 5, 2014

    I just saw it last weekend for the first time and thought how nice it looked compared to all the other tacky signs in front of businesses in Glenwood South.

  • Big Mike Jun 5, 2014

    The little man trying to make a living once again gets knocked back by over zealous city officials who have nothing better to do with their shake and bake ordinances .

  • khb Jun 5, 2014

    The ugliest advertisement in Raleigh is the Red hat at the top of the building. It sticks out of the skyline like a sore thumb and is ugly. Why don't they complain about that. Oh maybe b/c Red hat is a big company and this restaurant isn't.

  • yesimagirl Jun 5, 2014

    That sign is both lovely and in keeping with signage generally attributed to the best things about the old south - good cooking and community places to gather. We are slowly losing our identity.

  • Virginia Chellis Jun 5, 2014
    user avatar

    This building and sign are a part of history and should be fought for. For an state that wants to keep its "history" for the future you have to leave this building and sign alone. I remember when most building in cities had their names painted on them. This reminds me of the "old" days when I was a kid going to town with my grandma on the bus as we only had 1 car and my dad had to drive to work and mom had this to do at home just as cleaning and baking. Still remember fresh bread baked from scratch and canning veggies or making jellies. Not much store bought in our home. Just like this sign it is "history", leave it alone. Thanks Virginia

  • busyb97 Jun 5, 2014

    Consistency is needed then. The Rockford sign is hardly what I would call a sign, and it is done very tastefully. I agree with the other comments about RedHat and any of those other big signs on top of buildings or near them. And if I were this business, I would go around with my camera and take pictures and ask those questions!

    This sign looks very cool. It reminds me of old buildings that have some history.

  • luvstoQ Jun 5, 2014

    What's the matter Raleigh?? Trying to keep up with Cary??

    Come on, show them how it 'should' be!!!!!

    There's nothing distasteful about this restaurant's signs and you know it! Leave it be please.