AJC may move out of downtown

By Maria Saporta
Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 11:38am

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is laying the groundwork to move the newspaper from its current downtown home to a location that likely will be outside the city limits.

Newspaper executives have been letting community leaders and employees know about the possible move, telling them that decision should be announced later this month.

The new publisher of the AJC, Michael Joseph, informed employees in an Aug. 3 e-mail.

The intra-office email said:

“The cost of operating the downtown building is very high. Since moving production out to Gwinnett, we occupy less than 30 percent of the facility. As a result, the expense to operate the building is exorbitant. No decision has been made at this time, but we are looking at options including maintaining our current downtown location or relocating to a new, smaller site in the greater Atlanta area. I will keep you informed and share any updates on this issue.”

Doug Franklin, executive vice president of Cox Newspapers who served briefly as AJC’s publisher, has been placing strategic calls to a select group of civic leaders to let them know that a decision would be announced in the next couple of weeks.

Although it is not known where the AJC will move, the newspaper’s parent — Cox Enterprises Inc.— owns other facilities in the metro area.

Cox does own its current building at 72 Marietta St.

One strong possibility is Gwinnett County, where the AJC decided to locate its new printing presses a couple of years ago. The production facility is at 6455 Best Friend Road in Norcross, about 17 miles from downtown Atlanta.

Other possibilities include the headquarters of Cox Enterprises on Peachtree-Dunwoody Road near Perimeter Center as well as a facility along Lake Hearn where Cox Communications, the cable company, is headquartered. Lake Hearn also is in the Perimeter Center area, but inside I-285.

“We have been exploring all the options to lower our cost structure, including real estate,” said Jennifer Morrow, the AJC’s external communications manager. “We are looking at a lot of options related to real estate opportunities.”

She added that a decision likely will be announced within a couple of weeks.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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