It still looks like the art deco newspaper building it was for 81 years - once with its own restaurant and barbershop - until its newsroom and other functions recently moved to a building across the street. Now the venerable but mostly vacant Fairview Avenue headquarters of The Seattle Times is up for sale.
The asking price is $80 million, about twice the property's assessed value, the Times' Eric Pryne reports today. For that a buyer gets the three-story, block long stone headquarters at Fairview and John with its many strange corridors connecting to newer additions, as well as the paper's block of surface parking across the way at Fairview and Denny.
The headquarters, according to vintageseattle.org, was the work of famous Seattle architect Robert Reamer, best known for designing the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park. The Times Building was completed in 1931, with major additions in 1947 and 1967.
Consolidation and relocation has been ongoing for several years, including the Times' $36 million sale and lease-back last year of its building at Denny and Boren - the eight-story Denny Building, home also of the 13 Coins restaurant - where it is now headquartered.
Publisher Frank Blethen and his board originally planned to offer the old headquarters to developers on a ground lease only. But in the wake of billionaire Allen's massive Vulcan Inc. developments in the area and more recently billionaire Bezos' announcement of a three-building spread for Amazon.com, multi-millionaire Blethen had a better idea, writes Pryne:
In an email to employees Tuesday, Publisher Frank Blethen said the company would prefer to hold the blocks long term, but is "testing the marketplace" in part because real-estate values in South Lake Union, home of Amazon.com, have rebounded and exceed pre-bust levels..
If the sale comes off, the Times Co. will have banked more than $130 million from recent land deals to pump into its news and other operations, having already gained $54 million from the sale of the Denny Building and the nearby Troy Laundry block.
In his e-mail, Blethen said the recession taught his company the value of liquidity. The Times may also need more cash to make required payments into its employee pension plans as well.