Philadelphia Media Network will shrink its newsroom and office space to 125,000 square feet from its current 525,000 square feet at Broad and Callowhill Streets. About 740 employees work at 400 N. Broad; 600 will relocate to the new location. Employees also could relocate to existing facilities in Montgomery County or South Jersey.
The company said city ordinances will allow Times Square-like signage on Market Street to boost the visibility of the newspapers and the website Philly.com at the new location.
The new offices will be leased from Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, whose holdings include the Gallery at Market East, adjacent to the former Strawbridge store. Ronald Rubin, chief executive officer and chairman, attended the news conference. Sources close to the deal say state and city economic-development funds are expected to be used to assist the move.
Osberg said the company would merge its newsrooms in the new location but maintain separate identities for the company's brands - The Inquirer, the Daily News, Philly SportsWeek, and Philly.com.
"This has been our home for more than 80 years, and it will be difficult to leave it all behind," Inquirer editor Stan Wischnowski said. "It was here in this building that countless numbers of reporters, photographers, and editors have performed with great distinction for many decades at the national and local levels.
"But it's time for us to begin a new and exciting chapter. The physical location is changing but not the mission of producing the world-class journalism that our readers expect and deserve."
Nutter said the city has boosted police patrols on Market Street East.
"We are pleased that the headquarters and hundreds of PMN employees will be on Market Street East, which is experiencing a significant rebirth," Nutter said. "At the same time, we are working closely with the new owner of the Inquirer-Daily News building to find the best use of that iconic structure."
Developer Bart Blatstein, chief executive officer of Tower Investments Inc., purchased both the Inquirer andDaily News Building and the State Office Building at Broad and Spring Garden Streets. He paid $21 million for the State Office Building, according to a July story in the Daily News, and he was expected to have paid slightly more for the Inquirer and Daily News Building and its parking garage and surface lot.
"I don't have any intent to tear down the [Inquirer and Daily News] Building," Blatstein said. "I dig the building."
The building requires extensive improvements, and he expects it to be part of a mixed-used project of offices, retail and housing, Blatstein said.
Among the options Philadelphia Media Network considered were locations in Cherry Hill and Camden, along with staying at its current home, at 1500 Spring Garden St., and the former Rohm & Haas headquarters on Independence Mall West, now partly occupied by a Dow Chemical Co. division.
Construction began in July 1923 on the newspaper building, and it has been a showpiece for decades. Set above a Reading Co. rail bed and freight yard, the building soars 340 feet from the street. The cost was $10 million, including $2,400 of gold leaf encased in the dome.
The newspaper's owner at the time was Col. James Elverson, and the building was initially called the Elverson Building. In addition to space for reporters, printing presses, and business functions, the building came equipped with a posh two-story apartment.
When the first edition of The Inquirer rolled out of the building in July 1925, the North Broad facility was considered the most modern newspaper plant in the world. Brightly lighted at night, the building became a navigational aid for pilots. The Daily News moved into the building after it was purchased in 1957 by Walter H. Annenberg, who was then The Inquirer's owner.
The building's ownership changed hands over the years, with Knight Newspapers, a predecessor to Knight Ridder Inc., purchasing the papers in 1969. By the 1990s, the white building was aging and times were changing.
Confronting growth in the suburbs, Knight Ridder constructed a new printing plant in Upper Merion Township. With printing gone, the ink-stained press room at 400 N. Broad was cleaned and renovated into a block-long modern newsroom for The Inquirer, looking down on Callowhill Street. The Daily News newsroom went to former production space on the first floor.
But then came the increasing influence of the Internet, changing the habits of many readers, and waves of employee cutbacks that eliminated reporters, editors, photographers, and administrative personnel as well as employees in circulation, advertising, production, and other business activities.
Relocating the offices will leave behind a neighborhood long associated with The Inquirer. "A lot of people think of The Inquirer as a North Broad Street institution," said John Claypool, executive director of the American Institute of Architects in Philadelphia, "but I would not say that the building has become part of the business brand."
Contact staff writer Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or firstname.lastname@example.org.