Sun will sell, lease back its offices

Sun will sell, lease back its offices

Published: 09/07/2013 06:59:58 AM EDT
LOWELL — The Sun is selling its existing office space at its Dutton Street location and leasing it back, with a sale expected to close Friday.

Shrewsbury-based Manchester Property Group LLC will purchase the space at 491 Dutton St. for $1.3 million, President and Publisher Mark O’Neil said. The Sun will sign a seven-year lease for all space except for the first-floor newsroom, which will be relocated across the building’s main lobby.

Manchester Property Group could not be reached for comment.

The Sun’s newsroom, sales, marketing, circulation, digital, administration and business operations now occupy the first and second floors of a mill building shared with the American Textile History Museum and upper-floor condominiums at 491 Dutton St. The Sun moved to Dutton Street in 2007 from 15 Kearney Square, where it had been based for more than 60 years.

The Sun is selling real estate because it is the company’s philosophy to focus attention on the core business and not to be in the real-estate business, O’Neil said.

The newspaper, which employs 140 full- and part-time workers in Lowell, will continue to use 16,500 square feet at its Dutton Street location — about 22 percent less than it presently does — following the sale.

MediaNews Group, parent company of The Sun, also is considering the sale of office and manufacturing space owned by its sister paper, the Sentinel & Enterprise in Fitchburg, and the company’s printing press used by both dailies and related weeklies in Devens.

“We would look to maintain the Devens printing press and manufacturing space via a lease-back option,” O’Neil said. However, he said the company would likely seek a different location for Fitchburg’s news, advertising and business operations.

Such real-estate transactions have taken place throughout the company in recent years as Denver-based MediaNews Group moves toward leasing instead of owning property, O’Neil said.

The sale will not affect the newspaper’s coverage of Greater Lowell, O’Neil said.

“Our reporters will continue to report the news that impacts all our lives and deliver it in multiple media platforms. Our sales and advertising teams remain committed to helping local business owners find new customers,” O’Neil said.

“Our generous support of hundreds of regional charities and worthy causes remains resolute through our Lowell Sun Charities program,” the publisher added. “Nothing changes with the exception that we lease this property instead of owning it for many more years to come.”