January 15, 2015

Tampa Bay Times

Times Publishing Co. is putting the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times up for sale, Katherine Snow Smith reports for the Tampa Bay Times.

The proceeds from selling the eight-story offices, which consist of three buildings, will go toward paying down a $28 million debt owed to Boston-based finance company Crystal Financial, Times Publishing Co. Chairman Paul Tash tells The Times:

“The proceeds — combined with other pending transactions — will extinguish our debt to Crystal Financial in Boston,” Tash said. “Crystal has been an excellent financial partner, and that loan has given us time to restructure the company for the post-recession realities. Selling the building will close the chapter.”

Poynter owns the Tampa Bay Times.

In a memo addressed to Times employees, Tash explains that the building has become a liability as staff reductions have left the paper with unused space and unnecessary upkeep costs. St. Petersburg’s healthy real estate market has also produced several potential buyers who have approached Times management, he writes.

Selling the building doesn’t necessarily mean moving out, according to Tash’s memo:

Depending on the new owner’s plans, we might remain in this building as a tenant even after we sell it, though we would consolidate offices into the space we actually need. Or, we could move our business offices and make a fresh start in new quarters. We have started a study of our space needs so that we can plan wisely.

The Tampa Bay Times, which last year announced a 5 percent pay cut, has not been immune from the financial woes that have gripped the newspaper industry. In March, The Times announced a round of buyouts in advance of staffing reductions.

The Times will join several other newspapers, including The Washington Post and The Miami Herald, that have cashed in on their real estate holdings to purchase some breathing room, Smith writes.

Here’s the memo from Tash:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Together, we have taken strong measures to put the Times on a solid footing, and they are already showing up in our financial results. Last year was better than the one before, and this year will be better yet. I admire your good work, your resilience and your good cheer.

Next, we are taking one more step to secure the company’s future. In the coming weeks, we will put our office headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg on the market for sale. {Our production plant on 34th Street remains essential to our business, and it is not for sale.)

The proceeds — combined with other pending transactions- will extinguish our debt to Crystal Financial in Boston. Crystal has been an excellent financial partner, and that loan has given us time to restructure the company for the post-recession realities. Selling the building will close that chapter.

There are other good reasons to sell the building now. First, it is bigger than we need. Staff reductions over the last several years have left parts of the building empty, and it’s not efficient to pay utilities, property taxes and other operating costs for space we don’t use.

Second, the commercial real estate market has rebounded from the recession. Some potential buyers have already approached us about buying the building, but putting it on the market will help us get the highest price.

Depending on the new owner’s plans, we might remain in this building as a tenant even after we sell it, though we would consolidate offices into the space we actually need. Or, we could move our business offices and make a fresh start in new quarters. We have started a study of our space needs so that we can plan wisely.

The prospect of moving may be a bit unsettling. As a college kid, I first showed up at 490 First
Avenue S almost 40 years ago. But selling the building now will let us look into the Times’ future with clarity and confidence. We will keep you posted on developments as they unfold.

Again, many thanks for your extraordinary efforts. I look back on 2014 with satisfaction in difficult work well done, and I turn toward 2015 with anticipation for the opportunities ahead. All best wishes to you and your families.

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Donate
Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

More News

CNN suspends Chris Cuomo

Will Cuomo be fired? CNN will determine that in the coming days. But CNN couldn’t just let him stay on the air while it sorted through the details.

November 30, 2021
Back to News