A formal request from representatives of the Hill Country Galleria prompted Bee Cave officials to consider certain changes to existing signage rules that pertain to the city’s two biggest shopping centers.
City Council took no action during its Dec. 11 meeting, but did provide guidance to Jim Hopping, Hill Country Galleria general manager, on the best verbiage for the requested amendments. Hopping will work with city staff to create changes more suited to both the city’s and the Galleria’s needs.
The city approved the Galleria’s existing sign package on Oct. 11, 2016 via Ordinance 319 that replaced all of the development’s preceding sign packages and amendments.
The Galleria’s request for several amendments to Ordinance 319 deals largely with issues related to off-premise business signage and advertising, but also seeks to amend rules regarding signs behind glass, window graphics, construction barricade graphics, light pole banners, pedestrian directory signage, murals and vehicle sponsorship.
City documents state that the Hill Country Galleria and the Shops at the Galleria both have sign packages due to the fact that both developments contain greater than 500,000 square feet of retail, commercial or office floor area and abut a public right of way with a speed limit of at least 45 mph.
Hopping stated during the council meeting that Galleria ownership greatly values Bee Cave’s recently-awarded Platinum Scenic City status, and that is why all of the requests for city code amendments limit signage visibility to within the property and not the surrounding roads of RM 620, Hwy 71 and Bee Cave Parkway.
“That said, [Hill Country Galleria] is a shopping center, and there are things that we are looking to do,” Hopping said. “As a place of commerce, it is critical for our tenants and the landlord to be able to communicate what is going on. Really what we’re talking about is store fronts and how to best utilize those.”
One topic of discussion involved a mural for the Hill Country Galleria, a potential landmark through which the city of Bee Cave could add to its identity.
By far the topic that council most opposed was off-premise signage, as several council members stated that signs within the Galleria were not as obtrusive to the overall city aesthetic as signs throughout Bee Cave advertising shops and events for the shopping center.
Hopping also discussed ongoing violations of city code at the Galleria in the form of window graphics. He requested to work further with city staff to amend his request for code amendments so that window graphics and signs throughout the shopping center would become compliant.
The Galleria’s request comes on the heels of a Nov. 27 City Council call for city staff to look into amending Bee Cave’s sign code after a business, Hill Country Indoor, requested a 72 sq. ft. sign that would be 12 feet high.
That request prompted spirited discussion by council at the late November meeting, during which officials sought to rein in and clarify criteria calling for size restrictions, including square footage of a business, what constitutes a multi-use business and the definition of the term “tenant.”
The fact that Bee Cave is now a Certified Platinum Scenic City also came into the discussion, as sign regulations are a factor in the determination of Scenic City status.
Bee Cave Director of Planning and Development Lindsey Oskoui said that off-premise signage does run the risk of jeopardizing Bee Cave’s Platinum Scenic City status.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Goodwin said during the Dec. 11 meeting that council will look for another amendment proposal from Hopping at an upcoming City Council meeting.
Hill Country Galleria’s six requests for changes to existing sign code:
-Signs behind glass: HCG requested the removal in its sign package of the term “Signs Behind Glass,” which limits window signs to 6 inches in height and 144 square inches total.
-Window Graphics: HCG requested (1) to allow graphics not visible from public streets to be of a commercial nature and/or advertise businesses or products not necessarily sold at HCG, (2) to allow graphics visible from public streets to advertise spaces leased and under construction but not yet occupied to display the business name and “coming soon” and (3) to allow graphics in all locations to advertise events within and promotions at the Galleria. HCG requested the removal of the requirement that window graphics be limited to 80 percent of the window area.
-Construction Barricade Graphics: HCG requested the same allowances as described for window graphics for vacant spaces and spaces under construction.
-Pedestrian Directory Signage, Light Pole Banners and Stanchion Signs: HCG requested the amendment of conditions for all three categories of signs to also allow advertisements for businesses and products not necessarily sold within the Galleria.
-Murals: HCG requested the permitting of painted exterior wall murals not visible from public streets.
-Vehicle Sponsorship: HCG requested the permitting of vehicle sponsorship for up to four vehicles in designated areas.