Recycled Paper: Developers Are Reinventing Former Newspaper Headquarters

THESE WALLS CAN TALK

It’s not news that newspapers are struggling. The long decline of print in the internet era has been covered extensively—likely in no small part due to its effects on the people tasked with covering it.

According to numbers from a recent Pew Research Center report on the state of the media, the newspaper industry has shed around 20,000 positions, or almost 40 percent of its workforce, over the last 20 years. Between 2004 and 2014, some 126 daily newspapers closed their doors, as reported by Editor & Publisher’s DataBook listings.

Adaptive reuse has proven an effective strategy for municipalities and property owners looking to preserve existing buildings while repurposing them for the present.

Those are discouraging figures if you’re a reporter or editor. On the other hand, if you’re a developer, they could represent an opportunity. Newspapers themselves might be shrinking or disappearing, but their former headquarters and printing plants often remain. And these properties, many of them situated in prime locations, are poised for transformation into something new.

Take, for instance, the case of The New York Times, which left its West 43rd Street location in 2007 for a new Renzo Piano-designed tower a few blocks away. The old building is now a mixed-use office and retail development featuring tenants such as Snapchat.

Adaptive reuse has proven an effective strategy for municipalities and property owners looking to preserve existing buildings while repurposing them for the present. Provided they are well chosen and well planned, such projects can, in cases, lower building costs and shorten constructions times. Aside from such potential economic benefits, adaptive reuse also allows municipalities and developers to preserve historic structures, weaving elements of the past into the ever-changing urban landscape.

The practice is part of a broader shift in the nature of cities, as former manufacturing cores and waterfronts give way to increased demand for residential and recreational use. Much like old factory buildings that have in recent decades been converted to, for instance, office space and artist lofts, existing newspaper facilities may be seen as increasingly out of step with the current state of the industry. And, as these projects from around the world have shown, these structures are ripe for new uses.

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London Dock E1

This conversion of News International’s old headquarters is part of a larger long-term trend that has seen London’s formerly maritime Wapping neighborhood turn a number of its old structures, including warehouses and shipping facilities, into luxury residences. Designed by architect Patel Taylor, the property will feature a collection of luxury apartments along with new gardens and retail and commercial space. 

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Los Angeles Times Building

This summer, Vancouver, Canada-based developer Omni Group paid a reported $120 million for the former headquarters of the Los Angeles Times with plans to redevelop the 750,000-square-foot structure as a mixed-use project combining residential, retail and office space.

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Chicago Tribune Building

Also this summer, Tribune Media (which also owned the LA Times building), sold the Tribune Tower, the current home of the Chicago Tribune, to developer CIM Group, for $240 million. Built in 1925 and landmarked in 1989, the 462-foot neo-Gothic tower is one of Chicago’s most iconic buildings. CIM plans to convert the building to mixed-use development with possibilities including residential, retail, office space and a hotel.

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Herald and Weekly Times Building

Melbourne, Australia’s Herald and Weekly Times Building left the newspapering landscape almost 20 years ago. Since then, the landmarked neoclassical Beaux-Arts building has been redeveloped into a 61-unit condo building featuring office and retail space along with two of the city’s most well-regarded restaurants, Gazi and Press Club, from MasterChef star George Calombaris.

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