Word on the street is that the Asheville Citizen-Times building, the home of the city’s daily newspaper for more than 75 years, is going to be sold. This is an unconfirmed report. Sources have told me that Gannett, the newspaper’s corporate parent, has been marketing the building for several months now.
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.
Supposedly it’s “twin” was the former Coca Cola building on Biltmore Ave. I’m surprised they haven’t sold it sooner. Going to be some clean up from the days when the paper was printed there.
One of the best examples of Art Deco architecture left in town, this building, designed by one of Asheville’s most important architects, had better NOT be torn down. All of the core of downtown Asheville’s buildings were placed on The National Register of Historic Buildings in 1977 as a historic district. That doesn’t keep those buildings from being razed. But in Asheville ,where historic buildings do seem to matter, hopefully in this case, it will survive. Though I hate it will no longer house the paper.
It’s a very neat building. I think the style is more ‘Moderne’ rather than ‘Deco’ but in any event it is certainly an asset to the city.
The glass block surrounding the windows is quite distinctive and unusual. (Although, if i were a person inside the building, I’d rather have huge windows with a clear view than glass blocks…)
The Greenville News building was also sold (and demolished, to be replaced by a boring-looking mixed-use hotel/condo/retail/office project) but the paper stayed downtown and moved into a new boring-looking office next door.