The City of El Paso is set to purchase the building that housed the El Paso Times printing press for $3.6 million, a price $1 million lower than its appraised value for tax purposes, according to a City Council agenda posted Thursday.
The pending sale comes days after the printing press shuttered Oct. 4 and needs final approval by the El Paso City Council. Council is set to discuss the purchase Tuesday.
Gannett, the El Paso Times’ parent company, outsourced printing of the Times and five New Mexico papers to Paso Del Norte Publishing in Ciudad Juárez. Gannett first publicly announced the move in a Sept. 10 Times’ article.
Gannett began discussing the proposed sale with the city in June, according to city spokesperson Laura Cruz-Acosta.
“Assuming the Council approves the sale on Tuesday, the property could serve a significant public purpose as it would enable the City to bring more services under one physical location and align with safety and security objectives,” Cruz-Acosta said in a statement.
The 73,400-square-foot building at 501 Mills Ave., which is adjacent to City Hall, sits on 2.25 acres, according to a presentation posted to Tuesday’s meeting agenda.
The city purchased its current City Hall building at 300 N. Campbell St., in 2012 from the El Paso Times’ then-owner, Digital First Media, for $9.4 million. As part of that sale, the city received first purchase rights of the building housing the press.
Purchasing the building would save the city $72,000 annually as it will no longer need to lease the breezeway connecting the two buildings, according to the presentation.
The El Paso Central Appraisal District has valued the Mills Avenue building at $4.6 million for tax purposes since at least 2017; however, CAD appraisals are often disputed.
The $3.6 million would come from the city’s general fund, according to council’s agenda.
The sale does not include the printing press machinery. It’s unknown whether that equipment has been sold.
A Gannett spokesperson said the company does not comment on transactions until they are final.
In February, the company announced it aimed to sell upwards of $100 million in “non-core assets” this year to reduce its debt. Gannett borrowed $1 billion when it merged with GateHouse Media in 2019.
Cover photo: The El Paso Times ceased using its printing press on East Mills Avenue on Monday. The city of El Paso plans to buy the building, adjacent to City Hall, for $3.6 million. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)
Disclosure: El Paso Matters journalists Molly Smith and Elida S. Perez are former El Paso Times employees. CEO Robert Moore was editor of the Times when its then-offices were sold to the city of El Paso in 2012.
Smith has been a reporter for the El Paso Times and The (McAllen) Monitor. She’s covered education, criminal justice and local government. A Seattle native, she’s lived in Texas since 2014, with stops in Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and now El Paso. She can be reached at [email protected] or 915-247-8857.