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Banana House Wins Appeal

Thursday, October 24, 2013

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The Banana House that split Purdue University's West Indianapolis community may keep the billboard-sized fruit mural that adorns it.

The two-story banana was added to the home at Wood Street and Chauncey Avenue in the spring when building owner Granite Management decided that the property needed freshening up.

The banana was part of an overall exterior repaint that replaced peeling white with a fresh coat of gray.

And, arguably, the world's largest banana.

Banana House
Photos: Granite Management

Advertising or art? West Lafayette, IN, can keep its Banana House for now. But officials are watching.

Granite Management, a major owner of student housing in the area, uses a banana in its logo and all of its promotional materials. However, the Banana House has no text or advertising; it just has a big banana.

Granite called it an artful, and legal, way to renovate a private property.

Critics called it advertising and argued that it violated local codes.

For now, the town is siding with the management company.

'Close Call'

“At the present time, the city is not planning to take any action on the Banana House for a few reasons,” West Lafayette city engineer Dave Buck told the Lafayette Journal and Courier .

The banana, Buck told the newspaper, is on a slippery slope.

“It is a bit of a close call on free-speech grounds," Buck said. "It is in a non-R1/R2 (low-density residential) district, and it is receiving very few, if any, complaints."

"We would obviously revisit the issue if further displays start cropping up.”

Banana Boosters

So far, the house's fans appear to far outnumber its critics. The Banana House has its own Facebook Page with hundreds of Likes and lots of photos of admirers who stop to have their picture taken there.

Robbie Hummel

In commercials and on Facebook, Former Purdue standout Robbie Hummel adds star luster to Granite Management's banana-laced presence.

Former Purdue standout Robbie Hummel, now vying for a spot with the Minnesota Timberwolves. is featured prominently (with a banana) in Granite's advertising.

'Aggressive' Signage

Still, the Banana House is not home free.

The city is examining all of its sign ordinances after residents complained about the proliferating number of rental signs and banners tacked to properties all over the community. Many of the signs were left up even when no rentals were available.

In March, the mayor's office reminded landlords and management companies about the city's sign ordinances and asked the companies to take down non-compliant signs.

The mayor acknowledged that "signage is a critical part of operating a successful business in any city," but said the city had "observed a general increase in rental signage and feel the playing field may be getting too aggressive with regard to rental signage."

One and Done?

The city's Neighborhood Resource Team then worked for months with landlords, to get them to remove the signs voluntarily.

At that point, the then-freshly-painted Banana House became ripe for controversy.

The last sign came down earlier this month, the Journal and Courier reported.

But the Banana House lives, and the company appears unwilling to press its luck.

"It's been fun, but we don't plan any more," Granite's office manager, Joel Brovont, told the Journal and Courier.

"One Banana House is good."

   

Tagged categories: Building codes; Building owners; Maintenance coating work; Murals; Renovation

Comment from Sarah Marble, (10/24/2013, 8:18 AM)

This is their biggest problem? Must be nice. I not only support the banana, I now want to go see it. Make it a tourist attraction. Be proud of your banana; make the world whimsical and less depressing!


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (10/24/2013, 9:15 AM)

It's amusing, inoffensive and a good representation of a banana. One of those neat, quirky things which gives a town appealing (ha!) character. Might be different if they tried to banana every house.


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