Herald Tribune – Newspaper publisher McClatchy Co. is working to sell the longtime home of its Bradenton Herald newspaper to Manatee Memorial Hospital, area real estate brokers say.
If the deal closes later this year, as expected, it would likely transform a busy Bradenton corridor, real estate observers predict.
The 89,000-square-foot building on Manatee Avenue West has been listed for sale since early 2009, part of a larger McClatchy plan to raise $50 million through the sale of some real estate assets to offset ballooning pension costs, according to company records filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The deal could greatly increase Manatee Memorial’s presence near downtown Bradenton, giving the hospital a slew of options, from more parking to increased ambulatory care.
In a similar deal two years ago, McClatchy sold The Miami Herald’s headquarters building to Genting Malaysia Bhd, for $236 million.
The company said in a regulatory filing that the Bradenton Herald property, where the daily newspaper has operated since 1984, is valued at around $9.2 million.
Terms of the pending deal with the hospital have not been disclosed.
“We’re essentially paying for twice the size of the office space that we need,” Herald Publisher Robert Turner said in a story that appeared on the media company’s website when the property was first listed for sale. “Any business in that situation would find it inefficient.”
Turner did not return calls seeking comment on Monday.
Representatives at White-Star Advisors LLC, an independent real estate firm hired to manage the property, also could not be reached for comment. McClatchy in 2011 transferred the Bradenton Herald property, at 102 Manatee Ave. W., to the company’s pension plan, along with newspaper buildings in Charlotte, N.C.; Lexington, Ky.; and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Since then, the company has been leasing back those properties at an annual rent of about $4 million. Sales proceeds have helped with company pension contributions.
It is not clear where the Bradenton Herald staff would move when the sale is completed, although area commercial brokers have heard the company is considering space in the Bradenton Financial Center — downtown’s tallest office building.
The Manatee Avenue site is “a fabulous piece of property — almost the gateway to Bradenton,” said Anthony Mazzucca, managing director for NAI Manasota Commercial Realty. “It has a lot of potential.”
For Manatee Memorial, the deal could present a tremendous opportunity.
If the deal closes, the hospital would control both northern corners of U.S. 301 and Manatee Avenue, with options for additional parking, back-office space for physicians, and even a walk-over crossing 301 for staff and patients.