Duane Reade Yanks Billboard That Irked Upper West Side
By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — Bowing to pressure from angry residents poised to march in the streets, Duane Reade has agreed to take down a video billboard at its West 72nd Street and Broadway store.
The pharmacy agreed to remove the flashing billboard — which had sparked dozens of complaints from locals who said it was turning their neighborhood into a mini Times Square — on Friday night, just in time to avoid a sidewalk protest residents organized for Sunday.
The sign will be moved to "a more appropriate store location, perhaps in Times Square," according to a statement from Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who led the charge to remove the sign, along with City Councilwoman Gale Brewer and State Senator Tom Duane.
Those officials and Borough President Scott Stringer met with executives from Walgreens, Duane Reade's parent company, on Friday night. By Sunday evening, the once-bright sign had been turned off, leaving a blank black square looking down on the busy intersection.
The sign prompted angry phone calls and emails almost as soon as it was installed in mid-March on the second floor of the new Duane Reade at West 72nd Street and Broadway.
Neighbors said the glare from the sign was so strong that it disrupted their sleep. The sign flashed ads and store specials for Duane Reade 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The sign wasn't just bright, it was also a building code violation, according to the Department of Buildings. The DOB issued several violations against Duane Reade and ordered the sign taken down, but that wasn't scheduled to happen until after a June 2 hearing.
Duane Reade also agreed to make a donation to a local community group, according to Rosenthal's office.
"At Duane Reade, part of the Walgreens family of companies, we strive to be good neighbors in all the communities we serve," a company spokesman said in a statement.
"That is demonstrated by the constructive dialogue we were able to have with our neighbors and customers on the Upper West side regarding the LED screen at our 72nd and Broadway store...We look forward to continuing to be 'Your City, Your Drugstore.'"