Newspapers nationwide have sold property as industry shrinks
The St. Paul Pioneer Press is consolidating its office space in downtown St. Paul, one of many media companies nationwide that is consolidating its operations amid a changing market for news.
The newspaper and website has hired Colliers International to market a portion of its building for lease -- or a possible sale "if the price is right," said broker Craig Lien.
The eight-story, 58-year-old building is at 345 Cedar St., close to city and county offices and the Central Corridor light-rail line, which begins service in 2014. It is also connected to skyways on three sides.
The news comes as the Star Tribune explores options for the five city blocks it owns in downtown Minneapolis. Developer Ryan Cos. is reportedly working with Wells Fargo & Co. to develop four of the newspaper's blocks into a mixed-use development that would include a campus for the financial services giant. The fifth block is being eyed by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority as part of the $975 million Vikings stadium project.
A national trend
Across the country, newspaper and media companies are selling their properties as the industry shrinks to reflect declining employee ranks and office space requirements.
Newspapers in Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle and Miami have sold parts of their real estate holdings in recent years. And several firms in the Twin Cities, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Optum Health, have sold their office buildings and then leased back the space in an effort to free up cash to invest in their respective businesses. That's an option the Pioneer Press may explore as well, Lien said.
The downtown Pioneer Press site includes news, administrative and advertising operations, but not production or transportation, said Pioneer Press Editor and Vice President Mike Burbach.
The Pioneer Press has hired an architect to determine the company's space needs, Lien said. "Times have changed, people are working in smaller spaces, they're just trying to figure out how to most efficiently use the space," he said.
An online brochure distributed by Colliers indicates that prospective renters would likely pay $8 to $12 a square foot for the Class B space.
What price the property may fetch in an outright sale is unclear, and Lien declined to speculate. Ramsey County property records indicate the site, which includes the 162,000-square-foot building, was valued at about $3.5 million for tax purposes, a figure that is typically lower than what the site may clear in a real estate deal.
Janet Moore • 612-673-7752