The Times-Union building, a Jacksonville landmark along the north shore of the St Johns River and anchor to the city’s ever changing skyline, is being sold according to an e-mail communication sent to Morris Publishing Group employees Saturday night.
The local sister publication, The St Augustine Record, which hasn’t published an issue in St Augustine in years, still holds to its virtually vacant campus on SR-207 west of SR-312. The St Johns County Chamber made an agreement to rent space in the building from Morris Publishing Group when they sold their own building off Ponce de Leon Boulevard about a year ago.
“As you know, our business has changed dramatically over the last few years,” The Florida Times-Union president, Mark Nusbaum, said in the email. “Frankly, we no longer need as much housing or parking for employees as we once did.”
Morris Publishing Group, a division of Morris Communications Company, LLC, purchased The Florida Times Union and Jacksonville Journal as well as The St Augustine Record newspapers as part of its acquisition of Florida Publishing Company from the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad in 1982.
Newspaper revenues disappeared when advertisers cut spending on print media and readers shifted to online news. Morris was left saddled with about $482.4 million in debt when the consumer-driven marketplace moved away. Then, on January 19, 2010, the ink-and-paper publisher became one of at least fourteen newspaper owners to file bankruptcy during the prior year. The move protected the Morris family’s private ownership of the publishing company at the expense of bondholders and creditors who suffered more than $178 million in losses through debt erased by order of the bankruptcy court.
In announcing that the Times-Union will sell its 18-acre property in his e-mail, Nusbaum assured employees that the company is “on sound financial footing”. The e-mail was confirmed when the Times-Union published an article announcing the newspaper’s operations center being placed on the market. The e-mail did not mention a sales price.