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Newtown Square Company Submits Proposal To Post Digital, 3-D Ads In Center City

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - A Newtown Square, Pa. company wants to install high-tech, 3-D digital advertising devices on the sidewalks of Center City, though whether City Council goes along is unclear.

Thaddeus Bartkowski of the firm "Catalyst Outdoor" is pitching what are called UEDs -- for "urban experiential displays." They're basically electronic sculptures that would display advertising and public service information.

"What's been created here are really high-tech functional works of art," Bartowski said.

He is hoping for city approval to place at least four UEDs in specific Center City locations. His current plan would include UEDs at 19th and Market Streets, 12th and Arch Streets, near Broad and Walnut Streets and near the Convention Center at Broad and Race.

(Artist's rendering of proposed 3D electronic advertising display for 12th and Arch Streets. Image provided)

The objects would either be free-standing or attached to otherwise blank walls of parking garages. Bartkowski says 70-percent of the messages would be ads, the rest would be a mix of non-ad content.

"That would include original news, weather and infotainment, City of Philadelphia information, and non-profit information, along with public service announcements," he said. "This would be the first implementation of its kind anywhere in North America."

Carl Primavera, attorney for Catalyst, says the technology takes advertising to a new level.

"You can have the message swirl, you can have one side with one message, one side with another message," he said. "It's really limitless in terms of the creativity."

For example, the UED proposed for west Market Street could be shaped like an egg timer or hour glass.

"You can actually have the message start at the top and drip through like an egg timer."

However the company's plan faces bureaucratic hurdles, including the creation of a zoning overlay to allow the placement of such devices as well as approvals by Council, the mayor, the Planning Commission and the Art Commission for the specific installations.

Primavera is optimistic, but stresses this is far from a done deal.

"We do not believe anyone has been negative about the concept. I think people are intrigued. (But) obviously this has to be vetted very carefully."

No city council member has yet agreed to introduce the legislation. A spokesperson for Council President Darrell Clarke, whose district includes Center City west of Broad, says that Clarke is "still reviewing this proposal and is engaged in discussions with interested community groups."

As to if and when this legislation might be introduced, the spokesperson said "that has yet to be determined."


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