Tribune Nabs 8 Newspaper HQs for $175M

Tribune Co. has bought eight office properties used by its newspapers around the United States in a like-kind exchange for $175 million from TMCT L.L.C.The transaction will save the media company $24 million a year it would otherwise have paid to lease properties where newspapers including the Los Angeles Times,Newsday, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant have their operations.The company received the option to buy the properties–which total 2.9 million square feet of office space–for $175 million as a result of the 2006 restructuring of TMCT, as CPN reported on Jan. 31. The deal is structured as a like-kind exchange with Tribune using proceeds from the $125 million sale of Tribune Studios in Los Angeles that was announced Jan. 31 and the recent $30 million sale of two former newspaper properties in Fairfield County, Conn.“This tax-efficient transaction gives us complete control over some very strategic real estate assets in major markets around the country, particularly in Downtown Los Angeles,” Stephanie Pater, Tribune’s director of real estate, said in a company release. “At the same time, we eliminate our annual lease payments and save a substantial amount of money.”Tribune, recently taken private in an $8.2 billion buyout lead by real estate magnate Sam Zell, who is now the company’s chairman & CEO, has been selling non-core assets since 2006.  In November, it sold the Stamford Advocate and the Greenwich Time newspapers in Connecticut to the Hearst Corp. for $62.4 million. Tribune recently sold the two office buildings used by the newspapers to Summit Development L.L.C. of Norwalk, Conn., for $30 million. The 21-year-old, three-story Advocate building is located in Downtown Stamford, Conn., and contains about 90,000 square feet of space on 3.2 acres. The Greenwich Time building at 20 East Elm St. in Downtown Greenwich was built in 1926 and has 20,000 square feet of space on 0.37 acres.A spokesman for Summit Development, which has been active in redeveloping Norwalk’s waterfront and projects throughout Fairfield County, has said Summit’s plans for the properties should be announced within a month.“We received significant interest in these assets due to their prime downtown locations,” Jim Fagan, senior managing director of Cushman & Wakefield Inc., said in a C&W release about the transaction. Fagan’s team, including senior director Greg Frisoli, associate Betcy Vincent and executive director Michael DeSantis, represented the seller and obtained the buyer.  “While we received offers, in whole or in part, that could have exceeded this transaction price, Tribune was drawn to Summit as they were able to negotiate and close on the properties in 21 days.”