Projo trying to sell Providence HQ for $10M, move to top floors

The Providence Journal is exploring a $10 million sale-leaseback deal for its historic headquarters on Fountain Street, executives disclosed last week.

Dallas-based parent company A.H. Belo has valued The Journal’s “non-core” real estate holdings in Providence at $18.85 million, executives said last Thursday in a presentation at its annual investor day.

The Journal currently occupies the entire five-story 75 Fountain St. building, which was built in 1932 and has 160,000 square feet of space that could be rented. The company wants to sell the building for about $10 million, then lease half of it to run the newspaper.

“A recent space-planning study confirmed that The Journal could fit on the top two floors, thereby freeing up the lower two floors for redevelopment,” Dan Blizzard, A.H. Belo’s senior vice president, told investors. “The building is currently being offered for sale on a sale-leaseback basis to a select group of potential buyers.”

The Journal is also trying to sell three parking lots worth a combined $4.85 million and a vacant inserting facility worth $4 million. Blizzard said the paper’s production plant is not for sale. In 2010 the company tried to get the city to buy the Fountain Street building for $9.75 million or lease it for $1.17 million annually.

Separately, Journal publisher Howard Sutton briefly summarized the paywall system the paper launched last February, noting that it differs significantly from that of sister paper The Dallas Morning News.

Sutton said the strategy has three goals: to “stabilize print circulation; increase value for subscribers by launching the e-edition and other value-added products; [and] maintain a vibrant online community.” He didn’t offer any details on the impact of the paywall thus far.

• Related: Union: Providence Journal to disclose plan for layoffs Tuesday (Oct. 5)

(photo: A.H. Belo)

An earlier version of this story incorrectly described The Journal’s building as four stories.

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