T&G building sale completed

WORCESTER — Officials of the Telegram & Gazette and the Worcester Business Development Corp. announced yesterday that The New York Times Co., owner of the T&G, has sold the T&G buildings at 18-20 Franklin St. and the newspaper’s Federal Street parking lot to the WBDC.
The sale price was $300,000, said David P. Forsberg, chief executive officer of the WBDC.

Mr. Forsberg said the WBDC, a nonprofit developer, plans to prepare the back of the former T&G four-building complex, on Federal Street, for some kind of academic use as part of the WBDC’s Theater District downtown redevelopment project.

Among possible tenants is Quinsigamond Community College, which is seeking to create a new and expanded downtown campus, Mr. Forsberg said.

In the meantime, the newspaper has the right to lease back the Franklin Street side of the property for up to a year.

“This is a great thing for Worcester, and I think the WBDC has a good plan,” T&G Publisher Bruce Gaultney said in an interview. “The Theater District is going to be helpful to downtown. I’m happy because it’s a good deal all around for the community.”

The newspaper over the past few months has consolidated all its Worcester operations and its more than 200 Worcester employees in the front of the complex on Franklin Street. The T&G also maintains a printing and distribution plant in Millbury.

Mr. Gaultney said the newspaper will remain downtown, but declined to discuss possible locations or whether the T&G would move out of its current space and then move back in after it is renovated. Mr. Gaultney also declined to say whether the Times Co. could realize any tax or other financial advantages from the sale of the property.

Two possible new locations mentioned for the newspaper are 100 Front St., the former Mechanics Tower, located diagonally across the Worcester Common from the newspaper’s longtime home at 18-20 Franklin St.; and the Printers Building, around the corner from the T&G at 44 Portland St.

Mr. Gaultney told T&G employees in an email yesterday afternoon that negotiations were well under way for a new location and that he plans to make an announcement soon.

In any event, Mr. Gaultney said the new offices would provide a more updated workspace and functional floor plan to reflect the multimedia company that the T&G has become. In addition to the newspaper and telegram.com, the T&G also publishes Worcester Living magazine and weekly local newspapers under the TelegramTowns umbrella.

Because of the staff downsizing over the years, the T&G now occupies about a third of the 135,000-square-foot complex.

Mr. Forsberg said yesterday the WBDC isn’t counting on receiving a $2 million grant it applied for last summer from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to clean up the former T&G property, but the WBDC still intends to renovate the complex.

While Quinsigamond Community College was originally slated as the first tenant for the building when the WBDC applied for the federal funds, the school has since decided to put out requests for proposals through the state for new sites for its downtown campus.

Mr. Forsberg said the WBDC will submit a proposal.

“We have a strategy for focusing on the Federal Street side for academic uses and looking at the Franklin Street side for business,” he said.