Monday, August 17, 2009

What does AJC move mean for Downtown?

So the AJC is moving its main offices to Central Perimeter. The AJC presently occupies only 30% of its Downtown headquarters after moving printing to Gwinnett and some significant downsizing. I suggest reading the actual memo to staff, which has been posted on Skyline Views. It notes that the AJC will retain bureaus at the State Capitol and somewhere intown "for use by our reporters and photographers who need to be close to downtown." Hopefully urban reporting will not suffer.

This is (in theory at least) a real estate blog, and the current AJC building is what I'm primarily concerned with. What is happening to the AJC's Downtown property on Marietta Street?
Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, which owns the AJC, said it has no plans to sell the downtown location at 72 Marietta St., which includes six acres of property.
I assume this is simply because the current market is rather crummy for selling this kind of property, although maybe they would be interested in a 99-year lease. Also, Marietta Street isn't exactly the best place to be investing right now.

In the short term, the AJC's move can be grouped into the "bad news for Downtown" category, but I'm not sure if it isn't a good thing in the long term. The existing AJC building is pretty bland, and doesn't bring a lot of vitality to the street:

View Larger Map

I wonder if Marietta Street will basically have to get so unattractive to investment that it can be affordable to tear down or retrofit a piece of property such as this. The property backs right up to (and kind of contributes to) the Gluch, so maybe an empty AJC building could create an opportunity for doing something with the Green Line.

Anyway, there are a lot of directions this could all turn out, and they aren't all awful. In the short term, it is a bit sad that the AJC is leaving downtown after basically being there for its entire existence as either the Journal, the Constitution, or the AJC. I think the move is as more about the economics of the newspaper industry than about downtown being an unattractive place to work.

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