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Upper East Siders Want Action on Duane Reade Sign

By Amy Zimmer | April 1, 2011 1:25pm
The marquee that Duane Reade uses at 125 E. 86th Street, which residents have been complaining about.
The marquee that Duane Reade uses at 125 E. 86th Street, which residents have been complaining about.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

By Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo News Editor

UPPER EAST SIDE — The swift action taken against an illegal video billboard blazing from a Duane Reade on the Upper West Side has some Upper East Siders wondering why nothing has been done about the matching sign in their neighborhood that's been an eyesore for years now.

The drug store at 125 East 86th St., near Lexington Avenue, still uses the movie marquee from the days the spot housed an RKO movie theater — even though residents say a sign that big for a pharmacy is illegal.

Duane Reade received a violation for the sign back in 2003. According to the Department of Buildings website, it was illegal to have "signage double faced projecting more than 18 inches across the street." The remedy, according to DOB, was to "remove illegal work signage."

The record for this violation says the matter was dismissed. DOB did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Duane Reade did not respond for comment either.

"They're fully aware that it's illegal, but there's no political will on the part of the city of New York to enforce these regulations," said Elaine Walsh, president of the East 86th Street Merchants Residents Association and co-Chairs of Community Board 8's zoning and development committee. "It's an insult to the community that the city allows major corporations to get away with this."

After hearing about the fight against the Duane Reade at West 72nd Street and Broadway — which got slapped with $6,000 in fines — Walsh asked, "Why is the East Side neglected by the city?"

The community raises the issue about the illegal sign on a monthly basis, to no avail, she said.

"It's an outsized sign and it's not supposed to be illuminated," said Teri Slater, co-chair of CB8's zoning and development committee.

After many complaints, the Duane Reade stopped illuminating its sign for a time, Slater said, but has taken to lighting it once again.

"We have a lot of illegal signs. The problem we have is no enforcement," Slater echoed. "We feel absolutely helpless."