Friday, April 18, 2014

Building — not newspaper — on the market

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 6/26/2013

A large “For Sale” sign sits on the corner of First and Cedar streets, just outside The Ottawa Herald’s offices. Less visible are the small signs atop the larger one, which read “Business Relocating” and “Real Estate Only.”

No, the newspaper, which has been a leading news source for the Ottawa and Franklin County community since 1869, is not going out of business. On the contrary, its publisher said Wednesday, The Herald simply plans to relocate from its current location at 104 S. Cedar St.

A large “For Sale” sign sits on the corner of First and Cedar streets, just outside The Ottawa Herald’s offices. Less visible are the small signs atop the larger one, which read “Business Relocating” and “Real Estate Only.”

No, the newspaper, which has been a leading news source for the Ottawa and Franklin County community since 1869, is not going out of business. On the contrary, its publisher said Wednesday, The Herald simply plans to relocate from its current location at 104 S. Cedar St.

“We just don’t need this size of a building anymore,” Jeanny Sharp, Herald editor and publisher, said. “We quietly put it on the market about a year ago and decided it was time to put up a sign.”

The Herald only needs roughly one-third the space it has in its current building to operate efficiently, Sharp said. The newspaper was left with an abundance of space when it changed its delivery method to use the U.S. Postal Service in 2009, as well as when it moved its printing to a nearby community in May 2010, Sharp said.

The printing press at The Herald was sold to a Nebraska newspaper shortly after the conversion to an off-site printer, Sharp said. Subsequent renovations were made to the building, including converting the press room into a video studio, turning the former camera room into a conference room and renovating the former dark room into a kitchen and break area after other major pieces of production equipment were sold and removed.

The building is 10,500 square feet, not including two parking lots and a vacant lot just south of the building that also are part of the real estate.

“The costs to clean, maintain and operate in a building that is so much larger than what we need are sizeable,” Sharp said. “We are not aware of any solid leads for the building at this time, but I would expect whenever we get an offer, we can be out in 60 days.”

Sharp said The Herald will stay in Ottawa, preferably in the downtown area.

The Herald moved from its original location 106-108 S. Main St. to 104 S. Cedar St. in 1963 — 50 years ago this year. The building originally was constructed to house The Herald’s then-trend-setting new press technology.

“We certainly have chronicled a lot of history in this building,” Sharp, who has been Herald editor and publisher since 2000, said. “I think at one time we felt tied to our press like we couldn’t be a newspaper without it. It is sad to see newspapers move away from the press, but it is fairly common nowadays. We are just shedding the old ways of doing business. I think we need to be ‘lean and mean’ and downsize in order to focus on our primary roles, which are being a news and marketing source.”

New projects to utilize the current building’s extra space, such as the Studio 104 initiative, will continue upon The Herald’s eventual move to a new location, Sharp said. The Herald’s Studio 104 acts much like an advertising and design agency, completing such creative digital design projects as developing logos, websites, database, direct mail, ad campaigns, videos, business cards and other offerings for businesses, political candidates, organizations and other customers.

Residents shouldn’t panic at the sight of the building’s for sale sign, Sharp said; instead they should be pleased to see The Herald continuing to adapt and innovate as a newspaper company transitioning to a multi-media company delivering news and information in whatever way its customers want to receive it.

“We are a solid community cornerstone and intend to remain that way,” Sharp said. “We’ve been here for 144 years and aren’t going anywhere.”

The building is listed for $419,000.

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