Changes proposed to Empire Theatre at recent HDC

With a future that includes being a retail space during the day and a movie theater at night, Empire Theatre owner Gary Pollard came to the Historic District Commission with two plans to change the exterior of the old building: one application to replace existing signage, and one preliminary application to replace existing doors and windows. Newport Collaborative Architects architect Joanna Grocott was at the meeting with Pollard to answer any questions on Monday, Nov. 23.
Chair Bill Penn started the discussion by stating that the sign proposal did not comply with Historic District ordinances because the design included exposed light bulbs, which are not allowed.
Pollard, however, said there was no power to the sign so the bulbs “cannot be lit.”
“[The letters] that get attached to the building have some sort of a bulb that cannot be lit, but it looks like a bulb. If there’s light from overhead, it will glisten to some degree. It’s not designed to be powered. It’s not a light bulb,” said Pollard.
Penn said an exposed light bulb is not acceptable, and would need to be covered.
“We have legal opinion that says it is illegal,” said Penn.
Penn asked

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