Verizon Center to light up Chinatown with giant advertising signs

The Verizon Center is well known for its sights and sounds. But those sights could soon be a huge problem for nearby neighbors.

A new signage ordinance could have the outside of "the phone booth" burning bright through all hours of the night.

Ever since the then-MCI, now-Verizon Center came to Chinatown, it's been a bustling place. Some call it the Times Square of DC.

But with growth comes conflict. The latest example is the Verizon Center owners' plan to install several giant new LED signs to show video advertisements.

One would go on 7th St. NW and another double one would hang on both sides of the building at the corner of 7th and F.

Some people in the neighborhood are okay with that. But others say there are issues.

Although very few people live right next to the Verizon Center, if you go a block away, there are a lot of residents, people like Nanette Paris, who says too much light can be bothersome.

"Light travels quite far," says Paris, President of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. "When I lived in another building, three blocks from Gallery Place, I could read the sign of what movies were playing."

Paris also says the much smaller video billboards at 7th and H distract drivers. Putting in bigger ones is a bad idea, she says.

"That is a big distraction, and we have enough problems of people with their cellphones," says Kathy Stewart, a visitor.

"I think drivers in D.C. are so bad, that another distraction, you're not going to know the difference," says Rebecca Feeley, a Northwest resident.

"I think it would be a nice addition," says Billy Daniels, a Northwest resident. "I'd like to see a little more flare here in DC."