Ashvegas reported the pending sale two months ago. As stated then, the local sale of the building caps a decade of unrelenting cost-cutting measures by the newspaper’s parent company, Gannett. Seeking to stave off steady revenue losses triggered by declines in print circulation and print advertising, the Asheville Citizen-Times has laid off dozens of employees, closed its local printing plant, reduced the size of the print product and shrunken the circulation footprint of a publication that once boasted a wide reach across the mountains of Western North Carolina.
The sale of the building also continues a trend of Gannett (and other newspaper companies) selling off valuable downtown buildings that have been historic homes to its newspapers. With newspaper staffs drastically smaller, it just doesn’t make sense for them to remain in massive, under-utilized buildings. From Memphis to Nashville, and from Rochester to Indianapolis, Gannett has sold off newspaper buildings.
David and Nathan Brown bought the building at 14 O.Henry Ave. from a company that first bought it and others from Gannett. Brown has been a longtime downtown property owner and developer.
The Citizen-Times has plans to lease back space from the new owner for the next three years, according to newspaper story about the building sale. The newsroom, which was moved from the second floor to the first floor a few years ago, will move back to the second floor and share space with its advertising department. David Brown told the newspaper he plans to renovate the interior of all three floors and the basement to fit the needs of new tenants. No other changes are planned. (Important note: the newspapers valuable archives will remain in the building.)
The Asheville Citizen and the The Asheville Times were once printed and delivered every morning and every evening inside the downtown building. The newspapers merged into one morning daily in the early 1990s, and the printing operation was moved to Sardis Road west of downtown.
The building was designed by a leading architect of the city, Anthony Lord. The structure sits on a street named after one of the most famous American short story writers, William Sydney Porter, who used the pen name O.Henry. He’s buried in Riverside Cemetery in Asheville’s Montford neighborhood.