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Newton firm to help Herald get up and go

Posted by Ralph Ranalli August 8, 2007 09:21 AM

The Herald is on the move, publisher Patrick Purcell says.
(Globe staff photo by David L. Ryan)


Boston Herald publisher Pat Purcell is teaming with a Newton-based development firm to replace the newspaper's plant off the Southeast Expressway in a deal that could include residential, retail, and office space.

Purcell has sold the Herald building and the 6.6-acre parcel it sits on for an undisclosed price to a joint venture that includes himself and National Development, which is headquartered in Newton Lower Falls, Christopher Rowland and Steve Bailey of the Globe's Business section report today.

While it will potentially add a major new feature to Boston's southern skyline, the deal also marks another step in Purcell's efforts to transform Herald assets into cash and streamline the tabloid's operations. Purcell considers the Herald's antiquated printing presses obsolete in a time when newspapers can be electronically transmitted to be printed anywhere, said Purcell spokesman George Regan. The deal allows the current operation to remain in place for up to six years while the newspaper is relocated.

"This is an important strategic move as we plan for the paper's long-term future," Purcell said in a statement. "We intend to publish the Herald for a very long time and realize that we must do so more efficiently than is possible in our current location."

Last year, Purcell sold the Herald's daily and weekly suburban newspapers surrounding Boston to GateHouse Media Inc., a national chain, for $225 million. Earlier this year, Purcell confirmed he was in talks with Dow Jones & Co. to outsource the printing of the Herald to a Dow Jones press plant in Chicopee. That concept is still in play -- Dow Jones will soon be owned by Purcell's old boss at News Corp., Rupert Murdoch -- and would allow Purcell to eliminate up to 100 of the 650 jobs at the Herald site.

Purcell owns the Herald property independently from the newspaper. The deal to transform the site, which the Herald has occupied since 1958, into a major real estate development is another piece of the puzzle.

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