Anyone who has gone to a Boston Red Sox game knows that the giant Citgo sign in Kenmore Square is as ubiquitous to the baseball experience as belting out Neil Diamond’s recording of “Sweet Caroline” in the seventh inning.
But the status of the 60-ft-by-60-ft sign has been in limbo ever since Boston University announced earlier this year that it planned to sell the building at 660 Beacon St. that supports the sign.
While BU is still considering offers for the building that currently houses a Barnes & Noble bookstore, the Boston Landmarks Commission voted Tuesday night to give the Citgo sign preliminary landmark status. The vote means that any building plans for the structure would be subjected to a voluntary design review by the Landmarks Commission.
“We are excited and pleased the Landmarks Commission crossed the first hurdle in protecting the Citgo sign,” the Executive Director of the nonprofit Boston Preservation Alliance Greg Galer says, “which we think is an important part of the Boston landscape.”
A Change.org petition to save the sign has received more than 5,000 signatures.
Before the Landmarks Commission can grant the sign full landmark status, the board will take three-to-six months to study the sign's historical and architectural significance. During that study, the commission could only review development plans for the building with the owner's consent
“We are hoping it will be shorter than that,” Galer says of the study's timeframe.
If the sign is designated as a landmark by the commission, the city council and mayor would still have to approve that status.