Purcell Sells 'Boston Herald' Property to His Joint Venture with Developer

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By: Jim Rosenberg Following word last week that Boston Herald owner Patrick J. Purcell was considering outsourcing printing of his newspaper and selling its Herald Square property, the paper today reports that Purcell is working with a developer for future use of the site.

The Herald publisher sold the building and 6.6-acre site to a venture he owns in partnership with National Development, based near Boston. No sale price was given.

The Herald may remain at its current site for several years. Purcell has been talking to Dow Jones & Co. about the possibility of the Wall Street Journal publisher taking over printing the Herald at its Chicopee, Mass., plant (E&P Online, July 30). In a statement, Purcell said the Herald in future must be produced "more efficiently than is possible in our current location."

A move from the Herald's downtown letterpress and flexo presses to the Journal's offset presses in western Massachusetts or some other printer could eliminate as many as 100 Herald jobs. Purcell earlier told his paper that any plans would be presented to the union representing pressroom staffers.

Dow Jones has agreed to its sale to News Corp., owned by Rupert Murdoch, who formerly employed Purcell as president of his News America Publishing subsidiary and publisher of the New York Post and the Boston Herald, before selling the latter to Purcell in 1994.

The Herald Square property was owned by Purcell through Boston Herald Realty LLC. Though printing may move from the city, the Herald's business offices and newsroom are likely to stay in Boston, where National Development will help to find a new location.

With completion of Boston's hugely expensive "Big Dig" highway excavation and construction project, the value of the Herald Square property is believed to have increased substantially. The location is adjacent to part of that project, at the intersection of Interstates 90 and 93 (Massachusetts Turnpike).

Tax records put the total assessed value of the property for fiscal year 2007 at approximately $15.9 million, the building accounting for approximately one-third of the total. The property's value declined by several million dollars in the early 1990s, reaching a low of about half its current value. In 1997, however, it began to rise substantially.

Among new uses for the site, the Herald reported a possible mixed-use project combining retail, office, and residential space.

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