It’s been a month and a day since it was announced that Ray Washburne’s Charter DMN Holdings had purchased the former Dallas Morning News headquarters on Young Street.
Known by many as the “Rock of Truth” because of the words etched on the front, Washburne’s company purchased the campus for $28 million, paying $5.6 million in cash paid today at closing, and a two-year promissory note for the remaining $22.4 million.
At the time, nobody knew for certain what Washburne intended for the building, although he had said he valued the George Dahl-designed building and would work it into any plans he had.
We reached out Saturday, and Washburne told us that while he knew what he was going to do with the structure, he wasn’t ready to divulge.
But since we’ve taken a look at how architects and developers have reimagined old churches, abandoned malls, and mothballed schools, we thought, why not talk about what you can do with an old newspaper building.
Now, first things first. The building sits on what could be (depending on what goes on near the old Reunion Arena site and other spots nearby) quite the downtown hot spot. So whatever Washburne has up his very experienced sleeve will, of course, take that into consideration.
Today’s exercise, however, is just to take a peek at what fate has befallen other empty ink-stained environs across the country, and try to imagine what could be.
Most recently, we came across this breathless announcement from the city of Appleton, Wisconsin, regarding the building that was once home to the Post-Crescent.
“The latest low-moderate incoming housing project in downtown Appleton is expected to begin later this fall when the historic Post-Crescent building is remodeled into a new $12 million housing project,” the city announced on Facebook. “The Crescent Lofts, at 306 W Washington St., will consist of 69 apartments with a mix of one, two and three-bedroom apartments.”
The developers have applied for historic status for the structure and, if approved, will be able to utilize Federal historic tax credits.
The Palm Beach Post
The fate of the building that was home to the Palm Beach Post was not so kind. Around the same time the paper and the Palm Beach Daily News were purchased in 2018 by GateHouse Media (which just announced it would be merging with Gannett), the paper also sold its building in West Palm Beach.
Demolition started this week on the property, which was purchased by Tricera Capital, to make way for a 125,000 square foot shopping plaza called The Shops at The Press. The already existing 140,000 square foot office building adjacent to the new plaza will be named Workplaces at The Press, and the Post will take up one full floor.
The Philadelphia Evening and Sunday Bulletin
Just a few weeks before the announcement that Washburne had purchased the DMN building, it was announced that the former headquarters for the long-shuttered Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, designed by George Howe, would get a giant facelift to become a major part of the new Schuylkill Yards “innovation district.”
Inga Saffron of the Philadelphia Inquirer said that Howe’s original design concept that included two main facades that were just “unbroken expanses of shiny gray brick” would be getting windows — and lots of them.
“Brandywine deserves props for retaining this four-story, masonry relic,” Saffron said. “Although the Bulletin is not listed on the city’s Historic Register, it is an important building. It was Howe’s last commission, and the Bulletin’s decision to remain in the city, rather than move to a suburban interchange, was a touching demonstration of the paper’s commitment to Philadelphia.”
Turns Out, There’s a Lot You Can Do
There are actually many more examples of what developers and architects have done with former newspaper buildings, as we found out when we discovered this article from 2014 in NextCity, which took a look at several developments.
For instance, the former San Francisco Chronicle space, which was redeveloped as part of the 5M development.
“Where once were newspaper printing bays, tech companies do business,” wrote Gabriella Nelson. “In concrete between-spaces, where reporters likely once procrastinated deadlines with cigarettes and sarcasm, there are food trucks and art projects aimed at connecting the building’s new techie tenants to their neighbors.”
In Brooklyn, the Daily News printing press was converted in 2002 to a luxury condo development called Newswalk. The first tenants, however, ended up suing the developer, claiming the condos were far from luxurious. They ended up settling that suit, but not before the condo board had to take out a sizeable loan to bring the structure and the units up to snuff.
So what do you think? What will happen to the Dallas Morning News building? What would you do with it? Prognosticate away.
Want to see the other spaces we’ve reimagined? Click here.