The association's board of directors approved a plan to lease new office space and to sell, or rent and then sell, its building in Reston, Va., which currently is on the market, explained NAA president and CEO John Sturm.
"I think we're real close to a deal," Sturm said of finding new office space.
"We firmly believe, and the board agreed, that the market for leasing in the northern Virginia area is favorable at the moment, and the market to sell our building is pretty favorable," he said.
Although in many locales trying to sell a property can be difficult, Sturm said Reston is a prime location, and the 10 acres of property that go with the building make it a very attractive package.
Sturm said the NAA is moving after about 25 years at the Newspaper Center because the building is about twice the size the association needs ? not only is NAA smaller, but it also is getting out of press training and does not need that space ? and the building itself needs work.
"We were able to demonstrate to the board that, based on a conservative analysis, we can save at least $1 million over 10 years," Sturm said.
NAA plans to lease new offices, rather than buy again, because it allows it the flexibility to cut back on space ? if necessary, but not planned ? and the association does not have the responsibilities associated with ownership.
"The board felt very strongly that this was the time," Sturm added, noting that the timing of the move was driven by market conditions.
"We own the [Reston] building free of any debt obligations," Sturm said. "We could move and hold the building for a while, or lease it. We have had several potential buyers go through and look at it very strongly."
Sturm declined to specify which areas were being considered, but he called the potential sites "very advantageous to the association. They are state-of-the-art buildings. They're not fancy, but they're efficient. We can set them up the way we want them, to be more efficient. It's a more team-oriented approach to the architecture of the offices.
"We're going to try to make it more the office of the future than the office of the past," he added.
To prepare, Sturm said the staff has been having "purge days" once a month to get rid of documents and other stuff that piles up but no longer is needed.
Presses for sale
Among the things NAA will be getting rid of are the presses it used for training, which currently are for sale.
The sale of the presses is independent of the building offering, and Sturm said there already has been "significant interest" in the equipment.
In fact, there is a cash offer in hand, which Sturm said "established the floor of the market."
The money from the sale of the presses ? which Sturm described as being in great shape from infrequent use ? will be placed in a trust, the income from which will fund press- and production-related programs and projects, "to preserve the original intent of the donation of the presses from the manufacturers."
The other associations who share space in the Newspaper Center "are not part of the negotiations, necessarily," Sturm said.
"We've already met with them and offered our assistance to put them in the same building, if they want to be in the same building," he explained, adding that NAA will continue to offer them the administrative resources, such as payroll processing, that currently are in place.
Sturm expects to make the move in the last quarter of this calendar year, probably "sometime after October 1, but not very long after that."
Further, rumors that the move was planned as part of a staff reduction are not true, according to Sturm. "We're not using this as any downsizing tool. The flat answer to that is, 'No.' "
While he is aware of the areas where NAA staffers live, though not particularly who lives where, Sturm conceded that some people who live further west may have a longer commute.
"Wherever we go, we will have the ability to walk out the door and buy a sandwich, or go to the bank, or buy a shirt, without getting in the car," which is necessary in Reston, he said.
The NAA will keep its office in the National Press Building in downtown Washington for a number of reasons, Sturm said, including: its location makes sense for meetings and access to Capitol Hill, and the association has a 10-year lease on the space. n
By: DEBRA GERSH HERNANDEZ THE NEWSPAPER ASSOCIATION of America is expected to move its headquarters to another northern Virginia location before the end of the year.