Owners of Philly Papers Might Sell Headquarters

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The owner of Philadelphia’s two largest newspapers said Tuesday it is considering selling the historic building that serves as the publications’ headquarters, a landmark that has graced the downtown skyline for 82 years.

Jay Devine, a spokesman for Philadelphia Media Holdings, said the company had interviewed several real estate firms about a potential sale of the building that houses The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.

The company, which has cut more than 100 editorial and advertising jobs since Jan. 1, is in the appraisal and planning stage for a possible sale of the Beaux Arts structure.

?They’re just exploring the option,? Devine said. ?It’s been discussed as a financial possibility.?

One option is to sell the building and lease back space from the buyer, he said, adding there are no plans to move headquarters out of downtown Philadelphia. It’s unclear whether a sale would also include the land.

The 18-story building was completed in 1925 and cost $10 million to construct. Topped by a four-story clock tower and bronze dome, the Inquirer-Daily News building was designed by Rankin, Kellogg and Crane Architects.

The idea to sell the building came up last July in a memo to employees from former publisher Joe Natoli, Devine said.

Henry Holcomb, president of The Newspaper Guild of Greater Philadelphia, said the union informally mentioned the idea to sell the building during contract talks last year as a way to save jobs. Management representatives told the Guild that funds from a possible sale had already been earmarked for other uses and would not minimize job cuts, Holcomb said.

The company, which bought the papers from McClatchy Co. in June for $515 million in cash plus the assumption of pension liabilities, has been grappling with declining circulation and advertising revenues and said layoffs were necessary to cut costs.

On Monday, the company told 34 people in its advertising sales department ? nearly 10 percent of the staff ? that they would be laid off.

Last week, the company cut 71 jobs from the Inquirer newsroom, or about 17 percent of the editorial workers. Three people were offered positions elsewhere in the company.

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