Ian reports that the Providence Journal’s parent company, A.H. Belo Corporation of Dallas is accepting proposals to buy the newspapers real estate assets, including the Fountain Street headquarters. The four properties up for sale may have a combined assessed value up to $33.2 million.
While this further sign of the struggles within the mainstream media industry (ProJo will continue to operate (for now) likely leasing it’s offices from a new building owner) it could be good news for Downcity. In addition to the Fountain Street office, Belo is also selling the Parkade Garage on Washington Street (which has a retail space that ProJo has been unable or unwilling to fill, most recently occupied by GroundWork Providence), the surface lot between Washington and Fountain along Matthewson Street, and I’m not positive but I think the 4th parcel would be the surface lot behind the Parkade Garage at the corner of Emmet Square.
These surface lots represent stubborn holes in the urban fabric of Downcity. When Andres Duany last charretted in Providence, he proposed a Downcity movie theatre as a possibility for the Matthewson Street lot. Of course there is every possibility that a new owner for these parcels would be happy to just contunue parking cars, and with the current state of the economy, I don’t expect any cranes to be piercing the skyline soon (even if Belo can find a buyer), but these are strategic spaces in our city’s core and hopefully someone with a vision for them will scoop them up.