Who needs coffee when you have the Wright Brothers and an inspirational quote literally in your face every day?
“I wake up in the morning, watch them take flight, and go on with my day,” said Isaac Sunoo, who lives on the fourth floor of the Deco, a gleaming new apartment building at 2180 S. Colorado Blvd. He’s (mostly?) joking.
See, the complex is brimming with attractive trappings like a pool, a rooftop balcony, a game room, and fancy common areas to lounge and work. But on the building’s north side is a billboard.
“The right idea will fly,” reads the billboard, which also has a picture of the Wright Brothers, who invented the airplane, taking flight. It’s one of those “pass it on” messages funded by The Foundation for a Better Life, a nonprofit linked to the Anschutz Foundation. And it’s not 10 feet from people’s windows and balconies.
“What’s the deal?” John Calderhead asked, through Denverite’s question-and-answer machine, about the billboard that butts right up against people’s windows and balconies. Here’s the deal, John!
Yes, people live here, with a billboard in their faces.
It’s actually relatively common in denser cities, but the arrangement does sort of stand out on a sprawling Colorado Boulevard. Sunoo was the only person to answer his door when we knocked, but six homes are located behind the advertisement, said Ashley Thompson, who co-manages the property.
“Want to know what’s funny? We thought that that was going to be our biggest obstacle when we opened up the building last year,” Thompson said. “Those units that look directly into that billboard were the first units that we leased because of the price point that we set them at.”
In other words, the billboard residences — The Residences at Billboard — have a discount. That’s normal, Thompson said, because apartment rates at any building are based on a bunch of things, including the view.
“I can’t tell you how many billboard conversations I’ve had because of that billboard right there on the side of the building,” Thompson said. “They ask if we could buy the billboard out, if we could move it, if we could change the print on it.”
The answer is no, because the billboard is owned by advertising company Outfront and sits on the property of the liquor store next door. According to Laura Swartz with the city’s planning department, this particular billboard is “non-conforming,” which means the giant advertisement was allowed when erected but would not be allowed under today’s zoning code.
The advertisement, which faces south, is blocked by the building, meaning Sunoo and his neighbors get their own personal inspirational quotes. It’s unclear if the nonprofit knows that their billboard is reaching the same handful of people over and over again and no one else, but Denverite has reached out to ask.
The north side of the billboard, which thousands of people see from Colorado Boulevard daily, is arguably as inspiring. The ad is for Natural Grocers and features two eggs with arms and legs riding bikes. According to old Google Street View images, a previous incarnation included an ad for Secrets adult store — “It’s cheaper than dating!”
Sunoo said he doesn’t really mind the billboard. Plus, it could be worse.
“During construction, I think it was a large picture of Garth Brooks. So I think his eyes were very large, staring into the apartment, which was a bit much,” Thompson said. “So it’s far less creepy than what we started off with before we opened the building.”
At least it wasn’t Chris Gaines.