Herald-Mail seeks tenant for former pressroom

November 09, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |

HAGERSTOWN — The Herald-Mail is getting rid of its press equipment, but the company has no plans to move from its downtown building, Publisher Andy Bruns said this week.

Instead, the company is interested in finding a tenant for the three-story, glass-enclosed space built to showcase the now-idle press, Bruns said.

Since the end of March, The Herald-Mail has been printed on the press at The Frederick-News Post.

Press removal began at the beginning of October and is expected to wrap up by the end of the year, Bruns said.

Allegany Wrecking & Salvage is removing the 240-ton press in exchange for the proceeds from the scrap metal, Herald-Mail Operations Director Brian Sease said.

The company explored the option of finding a new user for the press, but it garnered no interest, Bruns said.

“It’s hard to see that, because I know that press probably had some life left in it, but in this day and age, the cost of moving it and setting it up somewhere else would be way too expensive to justify,” he said.

The 1977 Goss Cosmo press is one of only a few of its kind left in the country, and parts are hard to find — which is one of the factors that went into the decision to move the paper’s printing to Frederick, Bruns said.

Former Herald-Mail Publisher John League said previously that the move was expected to save $750,000 in maintenance and upgrades this year, and triple that amount over the next decade.

Before removal began, other newspapers removed usable parts from the press and color tower, Sease said.

When removal is complete, The Herald-Mail will be left with at least 17,000 square feet of vacant space, which could become up to 27,000 square feet by adding additional floors in the three-story pressroom, Bruns said.

When The Herald-Mail’s building at the corner of Summit Avenue and West Antietam Street was built in the late 1970s, architect Arthur Golding sought to make its twice-daily press runs “public events” that passersby could view through the large windows, according to a 1980 article about the new building.

Bruns said he would like to see that space used by a tenant who could take advantage of the building’s ample parking and downtown location, and he is eager to hear suggestions.

“Somebody threw out an idea of someone opening a restaurant in there, with the glass around it,” he said.

Another idea is to convert it to meeting space for nonprofits, he said.

One thing Bruns said he would not consider is moving the paper to a smaller building only to “leave this big landmark empty downtown.”

“We’ve been a part of downtown forever, and it’s the best location for us,” Bruns said. “If someone came along and waved a whole bunch of money underneath my nose (to buy the building), we’d look at leaving. But politically and morally, the last thing I would do is abandon downtown and just leave it.”

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