SAN JOSE -- The Mercury News announced Monday that it is putting its home of more than four decades up for sale and will keep its editorial, advertising and business operations in Silicon Valley. Printing operations will move to other locations in the Bay Area.
The process of finding a buyer and new offices will take several months, the company said. No asking price was given.
John Paton, chief executive of Digital First Media, which manages the Mercury News' parent MediaNews Group, said the sale of the 36-acre campus is part of the company's plan to reduce "legacy infrastructure costs" across its newspaper holdings. The sale reflects a trend among the nation's metropolitan newspapers. The Washington Post announced last month that it would explore a sale of its Washington, D.C., headquarters, and the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News announced in January that they would sell their downtown headquarters.
Within the next few months, printing and production of 10 daily newspapers including the Mercury News, now done in San Jose, will move to Concord and Hayward plants operated by the Bay Area News Group East Bay. Production jobs in San Jose will be eliminated, the company said, while the East Bay will expand its production staff.
All the newspapers will continue to be published, said Mac Tully, publisher of the Mercury News. At the new location, they will have increased page count capability and color capacity. Some will have later deadlines allowing for more sports results.
There is no timeline yet for the move of the paper's news staff, advertising and business operations. They will be relocated somewhere in Silicon Valley, with the timing depending on finding suitable office space, Tully said in an announcement to employees.
"Our goal is to find new office space that is accessible for our employees and for our customers," he said.
The campus, visible from Interstate 880 in North San Jose behind a grove of olive trees and an expanse of lawn, has been home to the Mercury News since February 1967. At that time, the editorial staff moved from the paper's old downtown San Jose plant to a spacious headquarters at 750 Ridder Park Drive. Planning for the move began in 1965, and new presses were installed in November 1966.
Built at a cost of more than $1 million, the Mercury News' new home was billed as the world's largest one-story newspaper plant. The 312,000-square-foot main building held more than 1,000 employees. It also contained Linotypes, typewriters and other equipment that became museum pieces or scrap in a digital age.
The move from downtown San Jose made space for new presses that could handle an increasing volume of advertising. But it was controversial. At a time when downtown was already losing business to suburban shopping centers, the loss of the Mercury News plant was decried by civic leaders.
During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, the number of employees working at the plant mushroomed.
Today, much is changed. The Mercury News is part of a group of regional newspapers following acquisitions and consolidation under the Bay Area News Group, the MediaNews Group in Denver and Digital First Media, and fewer people work at the San Jose campus.
"Our current campus is simply too large and too expensive to operate for our current business operation," Tully said in a note to employees.
Tully said the move will mean "more modern office facilities" and greater color capabilities for the newspaper.
"We do not define ourselves by the building we work in but by the community we serve and that is not changing and will not change," he said.
The property will be represented jointly by the Silicon Valley offices of Eastdil Secured and CBRE.
Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419. Follow him on Twitter.com/petecarey.