The sale of the Ledger-Enquirer building to Columbus State University's nonprofit real-estate entity, Foundation Properties Inc., was completed Tuesday, an executive with the newspaper's parent company has confirmed.
"The transaction did close today. The funds have been transferred," said Karole Morgan-Prager, vice president of corporate development, general counsel and secretary with The McClatchy Co., the Sacramento, Calif.-based firm that owns 30 newspapers in 15 states, including the Ledger-Enquirer.
Foundation Properties, the entity used to purchase all of the university-related properties in downtown Columbus, paid $3.25 million for the building.
The Ledger-Enquirer complex at 17 West 12th Street, at the intersection of 12th and Broadway, had been on the market for several years before Columbus State University decided to expand its presence further in downtown Columbus.
CSU is still working on the timeline and other details for the project that will include the newspaper's structures, said John Lester, CSU's assistant vice president for university relations.
A major unveiling of the university's plans is expected to occur sometime in January, with art renderings and schematics made public at that time.
"What I would like to say is this is another phase in a multiphase project," Lester said. "Foundation Properties bought the building with private funding. We're excited that we've been able to complete this phase and we're moving on to the next phase, and we hope to be able to announce some plans and some schemes within the next month or so."
The Ledger-Enquirer property had been targeted by CSU for an expansion of its RiverPark campus for some time. The university has publicly mentioned putting its College of Education and Health Professions -- which includes its nursing school -- on the site.
The university already has theater, arts and music departments in the downtown area, along with student housing. Its main campus is located near the intersection of Manchester Expressway and Interstate 185, several miles east of downtown.
The sale ends the Ledger-Enquirer's presence at the place it has called home since 1930, earning a Pulitzer Prize in 1955. It received one in 1926 as well. The building complex -- expanded through the years -- encompasses 170,000 square feet of space, with an office tower, offices inside a Mediterranean-style structure, and large areas that once held a printing press, mailroom and vast amounts of newsprint materials.
The Ledger-Enquirer's staff of about 90 will be relocating to the Hardaway Building at 945 Broadway, about two blocks south of the newspaper's current site and across from the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. The newspaper and online employees will occupy about 17,000 square feet of space there when the move is completed in late January.
"The Ledger-Enquirer has been a key player downtown since 1828," Rodney Mahone, president and publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer, said Tuesday in a statement. "We're excited about moving down the street into the Hardaway Building and continuing to serve the community, and we look forward to watching CSU develop our historic site. I think both moves will bring excitement and energy to Columbus."
The Mediterranean-style building nearest the corner of 12th Street and Front Avenue -- with its tile accents and large cupola -- is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hardaway Building, which dates to the 1890s but was renovated into its current design in 1987, is adjacent to the RiverCenter, the Springer Opera House, the Columbus Convention & Trade Center and Columbus State University's RiverPark campus facilities.
Mahone has said the Ledger-Enquirer will locate its newspaper distribution operation to warehouse space away from the Hardaway Building. The newspaper outsourced printing of its newspaper in 2011.
McClatchy's major newspapers include the Sacramento Bee, Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Miami Herald. The company purchased the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain in 2006.