Register Shelves Downtown Move

Paul Bass PhotoThe surviving reporters at the New Haven Register have learned that their newsroom probably won’t move downtown, after all.

The daily newspaper’s parent company, Digital First Media, had been negotiating with the owners of the block-long 900 Chapel St. former mall building across from the Green to move the newsroom to the 10,000-square foot space (pictured). The site, sandwiched between Dee Asian Kitchen and the Omni Hotel, was formerly occupied by the Bottega clothing store. The move had been anticipated to take place this August. The company’s non-editorial employees were to move to offices at a separate location.

Digital First execs originally said they planned to move the newsroom downtown as part of their successful campaign to persuade the city to grant them zoning relief in order to sell their largely empty 220,000 square-foot headquarters on Sargent Drive on Long Wharf. The city granted the relief in December, and the company struck a deal to sell the building to Jordan’s Furniture.

The paper is not under any legal obligation to relocate downtown.

The company has since changed its mind about splitting the workforce (an estimated 150-170 employees) in two locations. It is now looking for a single location, according to several people familiar with the discussions. It is concerned about the egress and cost of downtown parking.  It has made visits to, among other sites, an industrial park on Gando Drive right on the border of the North Haven-New Haven line. But it hasn’t signed a lease there or anywhere else.

City Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson said the Harp administration has been in continual conversations with company officials. He declined to offer details of those discussions.

“We have talked to them every day this week. I’m working to try to keep the New Haven Register part of downtown New Haven,” Nemerson said. “We’re well aware that the journalism industry is under tremendous pressure. We’re trying to balance what we’d like to have versus what’s possible.”

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posted by: canadachris on March 27, 2014  5:19pm

Perhaps the NH Register should just go away. The paper is a shadow of its former self. Good reporters but terrible management.

posted by: 14yearsinNHandgone on March 27, 2014  6:43pm

For an entity that had to shutter it’s printing operations because it wasn’t profitable enough, why on earth would they even consider paying downtown rent prices?  That just seems insane.

posted by: jkramer on March 28, 2014  8:08am

I had heard this rumor a few weeks ago; if its true - sad. Reminds me of a story I heard when we moving from Orange Street 3 decades ago because the Jackson family had bought new presses that wouldn’t fit into the Orange Street building. The Jacksons were thinking of moving to North Haven - because taxes were lower. When Ben DiLieto heard about it - he quickly made the old Gant shirt building available at a discount price. His quote: “You can’t have the NEW HAVEN Register located in NORTH HAVEN.’’

posted by: Stylo on March 28, 2014  9:03am

So the owners of that space kept it empty in anticipation of them coming and then they dropped out? That seems like a pretty bad deal.

The quality of NHR is pretty bad these days. Their website is also one of the more obnoxious newspaper sites out there, with extremely obtrusive and annoying ad’s. It’s crashed my browser a few times.

posted by: Shaggybob on March 28, 2014  11:22am

“It is concerned about the egress and cost of downtown parking.”

This is why the Route 34 closure was a bad idea without having an egress plan in place besides “use other exits” and exactly what happens when you keep waiving the parking requirements downtown.

Businesses go out of Town. Gando Drive has easy egress and available parking. Can’t blame them.

Why do we even have a Business Development Office?

posted by: anonymous on March 28, 2014  1:46pm

If they want free parking, they can move to nowheresville, and see their employee morale and productivity plummet. If they want to have a real newspaper and retain good employees, they should move downtown. The rent really isn’t that much more, especially if you squeeze employees in the way they do at most creative businesses (architect’s offices and such). If employees downtown feel cramped, then they can take a walk or sit in a nearby coffeeshop.