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Citgo sign’s status still uncertain as Landmarks Commission weighs in

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Mayor Marty Walsh and the City Council get the final say

A row of various city buildings on a block in Boston. Above one of the buildings is a sign that reads: Citgo. There is a street in front of the buildings with cars. Victor Maschek/Shutterstock

The Boston Landmarks Commission plans to hold a hearing on Tuesday evening—that’s today—regarding the fate of Kenmore Square’s famed Citgo sign.

Recall that the fate of the 60-foot-by-60-foot sign has been up in the air since developer Related Beal in 2016 bought several buildings in the area from Boston University—including 660 Beacon Street, which the Citgo sign has bestrode since 1965.

Related Beal is negotiating a longterm lease for the sign with the oil company behind it as part of a larger development plan, one that would leave it atop 660 Beacon. though it’s unclear where the sign would actually perch under such an arrangement.

The developer does not support landmarking the sign nor do some business owners in Kenmore. It’s not that the sign isn’t worth preserving, they say, it’s that regulations tied to such preservation could create a so-called protection zone to preserve views of it, too.

That protection zone would by its nature stymie new development—can’t have a building go up, or an addition to an existing building, that might interrupt views of the sign.

As it stands, the landmarks commission’s decision would not be the final word on landmarking. That belongs to Mayor Marty Walsh and the City Council. Landmarking also would not guarantee the sign’s current 660 Beacon location, only that any future moves would need commission input. Stay tuned.