It’s a trend: Gannett has sold off a number of other downtown buildings that have been historic homes to the newspapers it owns. It makes sense. Newspaper staffs have been drastically cut in recent years, and 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 put up newspaper buildings for sale.
A decade of layoffs: If the rumors are true and the sale of the Asheville Citizen-Times building goes through, it would follow a solid decade of layoffs that has seen the newspaper dramatically shrink in every way, from the number of people it employs to its daily print circulation. The institutional force of the newspaper has also been diminished. Here’s a history of the layoffs in Asheville.
Beating heart of the city: 14 O.Henry Avenue was once the beating heart of the story of the city, home to two newspapers: The Citizen and The Times. One newspaper was printed and delivered every morning, the other printed and delivered every evening. The newspapers merged into one morning daily in the early 1990s. 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.
What would follow a building sale? The newspaper staff would likely move to much smaller, suburban office space that would be cheaper for Gannett to lease/maintain. Downtown Asheville real estate is hot, with new hotel and condominium projects popping up right and left. One drawback of the newspaper building as it stands now: a lack of a signifiant number of on-site parking spaces.