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Aggressive or cute, the point is made

It's definitely a sellers' market at Re-Max Action First, but will the city let the signs stand?

By MIKE SAEWITZ

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 6, 2001


photo
[Times photo: Jennifer Davis]
Re-Max Action First at 6400 Fourth St. N makes its mission and presence known.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Thirty white posts crowd each other on the grass at the Re-Max Action First office at 6400 Fourth St. N.

On the posts hang red, white and blue "for sale" signs, put up on a whim before Memorial Day. They were meant to draw attention to the real estate office there. They have.

Each sign has a name -- and on one sign, a photograph -- of a Re-Max Realtor.

"Is it a Realtors graveyard?" asked one caller, according to office assistant Ryan Wagner.

"Is the building for sale?" wondered one passer-by, Wagner said.

Uh, no. The signs are patriotic eye grabbers, said Re-Max sales manager Rick Haupricht. (More like eye blinkers. They stand in front of a building with slanted glass walls. Sunshine often glints off the windows and into drivers' eyes.)

The signs stand out. Most of them are less than 3 feet from each other. Some are more than 6 feet tall. Thirty signs for 30 Realtors.

"A lot of people who drive by don't realize this is a real estate office," Haupricht said. "We're just trying to make some noise."

Get closer, and see that one sign has a photograph of two Realtors dressed in suits. Some got creative, adding smaller signs that say "must see inside" or "sold" on top of their posts.

The sign idea was conceived by a Realtor at a meeting the week before Memorial Day, Haupricht said. The signs were put up "on a whim" to celebrate the holiday, and they're also meant to celebrate their office's success in total sales last year.

Since the signs went up, Realtor Colleen Feeley said she has received dozens of calls from friends, family and even church members.

"Now we know where you work!" church members told Feeley.

"I'm ecstatic (about the signs)," Feeley said. "I think it's fun."

Fun, yes. But in compliance with the city code? That's unclear, said Julie Weston, director of development services for St. Petersburg.

A property can have only one non-illuminated real estate sign, Weston said.

But because the property is not actually for sale and the signs are for marketing purposes, "the individual circumstance is not addressed in the sign ordinance," Weston said.

"Who would've dreamed this one up?" Weston said.

Haupricht sees nothing wrong with the signs. They're not hindering co-tenants. Re-Max owns Real Estate Financial and Title Clearinghouse, both of which operate out of the building.

The Realtors drew numbers for prime locations. The outside signs were the most desirable, though Haupricht said drivers, used to being blinded by the sun's reflection against the building, "don't see names on signs" anyway.

"They just see there's a lot of signs," he said. "And they associate it with being a real estate office."

Haupricht plans to draw numbers every week -- if the city doesn't take the signs down first.

"I can't imagine the city will let us leave them up forever," Haupricht said. "It's a lot better than the (monotube)," the controversial traffic signal pole in Pinellas Park.

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