Digital advertising signs may be coming to Glendale for the first time as the City Council started to pave the way this week to let the Americana at Brand and Glendale Galleria to use the high-tech displays.

The council gave a first reading on Tuesday of an proposed amendment of the city's zoning overlay for major commercial developments.

The overlay zone applies to developments with at least one million square feet of commercial or retail space, which currently is only the Americana and Glendale Galleria.

The amendment would not only provide a framework to install digital advertising signs, but it would also allow, for the first time, signs that advertise businesses not on the premises, such as promotions for Las Vegas hotels.

It would also permit new types of signs such as banners, marquee signs and signage in public rights of way, which would be used to display directions and guidance for pedestrians.

Councilman Frank Quintero said he's seen firsthand how digital signs can have a positive effect on a downtown area while traveling abroad.

"I'm very much in favor of digital signs," he said. "In between commercial messages, quite often they'll display digital art that is quite breathtaking. It's very exciting, add a lot of color and excitement to downtown."

Digital signs use an electronic display to cycle through multiple billboard-type images and can show digital art and public service announcements too.

Because they can cycle through multiple advertisements, digital signs generate more revenue than traditional static billboards.

One point of contention is the ordinance's requirement that any development that installs digital signage must negotiate a revenue-sharing agreement with the city, which would aim to take a 12% to 15% cut, according to Community Development Director Hassan Haghani.

Rick Lemmo, community relations vice president at Caruso Affiliated, which owns the Americana at Brand, told the council that the company would have to reevaluate its plans for digital signage at that level of revenue sharing.

"We have no idea what [the] cost is going to be, no idea what investment is required," he said.

However, David Cuthill, representing the Glendale Galleria, said the indoor shopping mall is ready to move forward under the revenue-sharing terms outlined at the meeting.

The ordinance must return to the council for a second reading before taking effect.

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Follow Daniel Siegal on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.

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