The Citgo Sign Might Have to Move

The Landmarks Commission is preparing for that possibility in its efforts to preserve the iconic ad.

So, first, some good news: It looks like the Citgo sign will be saved from an unfortunate end. The Boston Landmarks Commission Wednesday signaled it still expects to grant the iconic ad a designation that would protect it from being scrapped.

But, brace yourselves: Some day, the Citgo sign may have to be moved. The Commission considered that possibility at last night’s meeting, where, according to reports, members considered what might happen if developers decide to build around, or on top of, the building where the 60-feet-by-60-feet sign sits.

There has been a simmering panic in the city since Boston University, which owns the building in Kenmore Square on which the thing has sat (in one form or another) since 1940, announced it planned to sell the property. The developer who struck a deal with BU to buy it, Related Beal, will soon be responsible for deciding the fate of the unlikely landmark that is now among Boston’s most beloved symbols.

The sign was given temporary landmark status in July. A more permanent designation would set limits on what developers could do with the sign: Should the sight lines from Fenway Park and the Mass Pike be preserved? Could it be erected on a pole instead of on scaffolding? How high up would be too high up?

“Ideally, we’d want nothing to change. That’s not going to happen,” said chairwoman Lynn Smiledge, according to the Globe. “So how do we preserve what’s most important about the sign?”

Perhaps what’s most important is its enduring presence at a time when so many relics of Boston’s past are lost to time. So, while it might not be the case that the sign isn’t going anywhere, at least the city seems intent on keeping it from going very far.