Specific signage guidelines for downtown Nashville — with one focus likely to include regulations based on individual streets and their respective businesses — moved one step closer to reality Tuesday as the consulting firm crafting the regulations presented them to the Metro Planning Department staff.
Craig Owensby, the department’s spokesman, said the meeting was “productive,” with “lots of good discussion. Tuesday’s presentation followed a Monday public meeting, during which about 15 downtown business and property owners provided their perspective on the effort.
“Right now, planners are looking at [continued] public input and coming up with a timeline,” Owensby said, adding both the planning commission and Metro Council will need to approve.
Austin-based Code Studio Inc. is crafting the signage guideline  to accompany the city’s Metropolitan Zoning Code, called simply the Downtown Code (DTC). If approved, future signs for parts of downtown — bordered by the Cumberland River on the east, Jefferson Street on the north and the inner-interstate loop on the west and south — could be very specific regarding the use of, for example, tall skinny poles, neon and plastic.
Extremely tall, bright and/or large signs, for example, are often geared toward motorists and can have a visually jarring effective on mixed-use urban districts, the department has said in the past.
“Their mission is to write a code that matches the envisioned character of the Downtown Code,” Owensby said, adding new regulations could make downtown more “pedestrian oriented” and “location specific.”
Owensby said the goal, for example, is to have the guidelines render signs suitable for their respective environments.
"This is not a one-size-fits-all approach," Owensby said. "It will be tailored to individual streets rather than to the entire downtown area."
Owensby said a new sign code could "streamline the review process."
“One agency would review [signage] rather than several,” he said.
Metro is paying Code Studio $38,000 for its work.