Sign Design Guidelines for Mobile's Historic Districts and Government Street

A. Mounting and Placement

  • Signs shall be mounted or erected so they do not obscure the architectural features or openings of a building.
  • Signs may not be located in the right-of-way except for sandwich board signs in the Henry Aaron Loop.
  • Off premise signs are prohibited.
  • The height of free standing signs shall not be higher than 8 feet.
  • No sign or portion of a sign shall extend above the cornice line at the top of the building face. Roof top signs are prohibited.

B. Design

  • The overall design of all signage including the mounting framework shall relate to the design of the principal building on the property. Buildings with a recognizable style such as Greek Revival, Italianate, Victorian, Queen Anne, Neo-classic, Craftsman, et al., should use signage of the same style. This can be done through the use of similar decorative features such as columns or brackets.
  • For buildings without a recognizable style, the sign shall adopt the decorative features of the building, utilizing the same materials and colors.

C. Size

  • The size of the sign shall be in proportion to the building and the neighboring structures and signs.
  • The total maximum allowable sign area for all signs is one and one half square feet per linear front foot of the principal building, not to exceed 64 square feet. A multi-tenant building is also limited to a maximum of 64 square feet.
  • The total allowable square footage for the display area of a monument sign is (50) fifty square feet, for pole signs 40 square feet, and for projecting 40 square feet.
  • Menu Boards for drive-through windows at restaurants need to be reviewed for size, material, etc. They are not counted toward the maximum square footage allowed for on-site signs. Menu boards are limited to a maximum of 25 square feet and shall not have information or signage on the reverse side.
  • The size of the sign shall be determined by measuring the area within each face of a geometric shape enclosing all elements of informational or representational matter including blank masking. Structural supports not bearing information shall not be included in the computation of display area. For double faced signs, each side shall be counted toward the maximum allowable square footage.

D. Materials

  • The structural materials of the sign should match the historic materials of the building. Wood, metal, stucco, stone or brick, is allowed. Plastic, vinyl or similar materials are prohibited. Neon, resin to give the appearance of wood, and fabric may be used as appropriate.

E. Lighting

  • Internally lit signs are prohibited.
  • Lighted signs shall use focused, low intensity illumination. Such lighting shall not shine into or create glare at pedestrian or vehicular traffic, nor shall it shine into adjacent areas. Light fixtures mounted on the ground shall be screened by landscaping.
  • Flashing, blinking, revolving, or rotating lights are not permitted.

F. Window Signs

  • Signs painted directly on window glass or hung in windows are permitted. Such signs will be counted toward the maximum size requirement, and are limited to 20% of the window area.

G. Multi-Tenant Buildings

  • Owner shall submit an overall sign plan addressing placement, materials, and design. Signage for the building and for the tenants shall be consistent.
  • The size requirements for multi-tenant buildings is as outlined in section C of this document.
  • Multiple individual free standing signs are prohibited.

H. Special Purpose Signs

  • Special purpose signs are not reviewed except as noted.
  • On site construction signs are signs giving information about the construction or renovation of a building on the same site. They must be removed at the completion of the project.
  • Directional signs or incidental signs are signs such as "entrance" or "exit" that give information but do not contain advertisements. They require a Certificate of Appropriateness but do not count toward the size requirements of this document.
  • Informational signs are signs that give information of a non-commercial or advertising nature such as historic markers, highway identification markers, or traffic signs within the parking area of a building.
  • On site real estate signs are signs informing the public that the building or land is for sale or lease.
  • Political signs are signs for a political candidate or issue. They are allowed for a time limited to three months prior to an election and must be removed within seven (7) days following the election. These are not reviewed but must meet the requirements of the sign ordinance of the City of Mobile.

I. Existing Signs in the District

  • Not all signs currently in the review board areas meet these guidelines. Therefore do not use existing signs as a guide for design.

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