The Billboard Wars are Back!

April 28, 2015 15 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The little Veterans Memorial Arena banner being fought over in Jacksonville is nothing compared to another billboard that could possibly be approved this week!

This week in Jacksonville, city council members are debating whether billboards should be allowed on the iconic Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

According to an email sent to, Scenic Jacksonville, Inc., a non-profit organization serving as a watchdog for the city's scenic quality, was quoted claiming "Jacksonville citizens have continually shown their distaste for inappropriate billboards. To have billboards marring the Arena, which honors our Veterans, is extremely offensive, especially when the advertiser is a divorce lawyer firm based in Orlando."

Well what could be approved in Miami this week would send Scenic Jacksonville to an early grave.

Last week, Miami's Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency struck a deal with a Miami Beach developer to build a billboard that will be taller than Jacksonville's 617-foot Bank of America Tower.

Dubbed the Miami Innovation Tower, Michael Simkins' billboard will twist 633-feet into the sky, featuring signs as large as 30,000 square feet. If you need a visual, that's 2,000-square feet larger than the footprint of an urban Publix grocery store.

According to Simkins, "the iconic tower will elevate the city’s brand on a global level, enhance the city skyline, and complement and enhance the surrounding community.”

Designed by New York-based SHoP Architects, it's certainly not your average Duval County billboard. Combined, it will feature five billboards, flashing static and animated advertisements every six seconds over I-95, I-395, and the Dolphin Expressway.

It also stands to fatten the pockets of a CRA representing one of Miami's poorest neighborhoods. Serving as a "beacon of capitalism", Simkins' Miami Big Block LLC will pay the CRA $5 million before breaking ground and at least $1 million annually, or 3 percent of his gross sales afterward.

The developer also plans to hire 20% of his subcontractors and 40% of his unskilled construction workforce from a local labor pool.

Don't worry Scenic Jacksonville, not everyone in Miami is on board to install a billboard that will be visible from 20 miles away. While Simkins and his supporters believe that the Miami Innovation Tower will define the city's skyline and reflect Miami's vibrancy and growth, Scenic Miami is totally not on board.

Scenic Miami, a non-profit dedicated to Miami's aesthetics, calls the tower the "most visually ugly structure in the State of Florida."

Article by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at

Next Page: Renderings of Miami Innovation Tower

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