The Tampa Bay Times has sold its shuttered St. Petersburg printing plant for $21 million. The company will use the proceeds to pay off its debt to investors.
Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund known for scooping up newspapers, purchased the 27-acre property at 1301 N 34th St. through its real estate arm, Twenty Lake Holdings, the Times announced on Tuesday.
The Times used the St. Pete plant for over 60 years, until it was decided to close the production facility to outsource printing operations in Lakeland in a facility owned by publishing giant Gannett Co. The Times closed the plant earlier this year, resulting in about 150 job losses. At the same time, the Times said it was planning to sell the plant.
“This is a real estate deal, not a newspaper deal,” Times chairperson and CEO Paul Tash said in a statement. “We had offers from any number of potential buyers, and we treated this one from Twenty Lake Holdings just as we did every other buyer and every other bidder. Their offer was best.”
The Times will lease back part of the land for use as a distribution center.
The Times previously said the proceeds from a sale would be used to pay off the $15.3 million the Times owes to FBN Partners, a group of prominent business leaders in St. Petersburg and Tampa.
The group of local investors from FBN Partners includes Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, Ybor City landowner Darryl Shaw, philanthropists Kiran Patel and Frank Morsani, and Tash.
FBN loaned $12 million to Times Publishing in 2017 and another $3 million in 2019, with the production facilities serving as collateral for the loans. At the time the loans were made, the motivation was to ensure the newspaper could stay independent and remain locally owned.
The remaining funds will go to the Times’ pension fund, according to the paper.