Charlotte developer Lincoln Harris is expected to sign a deal this week to buy The Charlotte Observer’s uptown headquarters, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations. The transaction would clear the way for one of the biggest redevelopment projects uptown in years.
The 9.4-acre site is one of the largest tracts on the south side of uptown. Split by South Church Street, the site includes the Observer’s main building at Stonewall and Tryon streets and an adjacent warehouse, loading dock and parking deck at Church and Stonewall.
The source said the deal was expected to be signed by late Monday or early Tuesday. The price was not immediately available, although sources earlier told the Observer that the bidding had been going on for some time and bids for the property had reached as high as $35 million.
A Lincoln Harris representative couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The site is owned by the pension fund of Observer parent company McClatchy. Jim Bishop, managing partner of WhiteStar Advisors in Boca Raton, Fla., oversees the property on behalf of the pension fund. He declined to comment Monday on the pending sale.
The Observer first reported in January that Lincoln Harris was planning to purchase the site. The pension fund – not McClatchy or the Observer – is handling the sale of the site, and Observer executives have not been part of those negotiations.
Last year, the Observer shut down its presses on the building’s first floor and transferred printing of the newspaper to a newer press in University City. News, advertising and administrative functions remain in the Observer building.
The Observer has been searching for more modern offices in or near uptown and has spoken with developers and landlords at multiple locations, including the NASCAR Plaza office tower at Stonewall and Caldwell streets. Observer Publisher Ann Caulkins said Monday the company is still evaluating sites.
The pending sale of the Observer site comes as development booms on the south side of uptown. The various projects call for hundreds of new apartments, three hotels, two office towers and a Whole Foods.
The Charlotte Observer building
▪ Year built: 1971
▪ Square footage: 360,000
▪ Parcel size: 9.4 acres
▪ Owner: The pension fund of the Observer’s parent company, the McClatchy Co.