Other major metropolitan media companies have recently sold their dated headquarters, reflecting changing times. While newspapers’ financial prospects have faded and their staffs slimmed, the prospects for their downtown real estate have improved. That’s particularly true in cities such as the District that have experienced a financial comeback and demographic influx led by young professionals.
The New York Times Co. moved into a new 52-story headquarters in Times Square in 2007 but sold and leased back the space it occupies there two years later to pay down debt. Last week the Detroit Media Partnership announced that it planned to sell the headquarters of the Free Press and Detroit News. Gannett has leased parts of its headquarters in Tysons Corner to at least five other companies.
The Post Co. once printed newspapers at its headquarters, located about four blocks north of the White House, but as readership shifted to the suburbs in the ’70s and ’80s it opened printing plants in Springfield and Prince George’s County, dismantling the downtown presses.
Weymouth said that when the printing presses were relocated out of the building more than a decade ago, that freed the company to consider alternative arrangements.
“Our preliminary analysis suggests that a move will make good operational and economic sense,” she said.
The Post Co. is no longer just a newspaper company. Its largest unit is the Kaplan higher-education company, and it owns television stations and a cable operator. The newspaper has been undergoing steady change as it has merged its print and digital newsrooms and invested in new technology.
The company reported higher earnings in the third quarter of last year thanks in part to its cable television stations and advertising related to the election and the Olympics, but the newspaper continued to bleed circulation and advertising revenue. Last year it reported having 18,000 employees, 2,500 of them in the Washington area, but it is consolidating and closing Kaplan campuses, and the newsroom has undergone several rounds of buyouts.
Through a spokeswoman, Post Co. executives declined to say where the company might move or how much its downtown Northwest properties — at 1150 15th St., 1515 L St. and 1523 L St. — might be worth. The D.C. government assesses them at nearly $80 million. Weymouth said in her e-mail to employees that the next steps were to “engage the market for our current headquarters, identify sites where we could relocate, design our new space, and develop a realistic timeline for a move.”