The Raleigh News & Observer sold its downtown Raleigh headquarters. California-based real estate investor Acquisition Group plans to redevelop the site.
The sale price came to $22 million, according to the N&O, which will move its offices to One City Plaza.
Directly next to Nash Square, the N&O building is in a part of Raleigh that downtown advocates see as the next development boom. The Fayetteville Street and Glenwood South corridors are mature, with shops, bars, restaurants and more. The warehouse district is undergoing a massive redevelopment, led by John Kane. But in between the two is still waiting for a big shot in the arm. The N&O building could kickstart that next phase.
Orage Quarles is now the president of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, but was the News and Observer publisher for 16 years. That puts him in a perfect position to balance the history of the building with what he sees for the future of the Nash Square area.
"The block is the premier location in terms of downtown, as far as I'm concerned," Quarles said. "And, again, when you look at what's planned in the warehouse district, and what could happen on the N&O block, you can see it all tying together."
Mary-Ann Baldwin served on the Raleigh City Council for a decade, but will cycle off this month. She is the only council member to live and work downtown, and has long advocated for downtown development.
"Really, there's an opportunity now to reinvent Nash Square, reinvent the area, connect it to the warehouse district, to Raleigh Union Station," she said.
McClatchy owns the News & Observer as well as several other newspapers around the nation. It has been selling off buildings as it tries to manage more than $700 million in debt. It had reached a deal in 2015 with a different group, however that deal fell through. The deal with Acquisition Group closes this N&O chapter.
"My first thought was, 'I'm glad it's done,'" said Quarles about his initial reaction when he heard the news of the building sale. "No one can be more relieved than the employees of the paper to know that they now know where they're headed in terms of their location."