We’re moving, but Herald will remain rooted

The Daily Herald aims to be around for the long haul.

And that’s one of the reasons we’re moving — but don’t worry, it’ll be a short haul.

Early in 2014, the newspaper will move from the west end of California Street in Everett to offices at 41st Street and Colby, a mile and a half away, at the south edge of the city’s business core. It is an office complex we’ll share with Frontier Communications. It was home to GTE starting in 1981 and later to Verizon.

While he was negotiating the long-term lease, the Herald’s publisher kept details of the impending move confidential. But on Friday, it was easy to see that Josh O’Connor was pleased to share the news with our staff.

“This signals a fresh start,” said O’Connor, who is also a vice president with Sound Publishing Co., which purchased The Herald from the Washington Post Co. in March.

“Fresh?” I asked. What does that mean?

It means a lot of things, he explained. It means the company will pursue an energetic business plan designed to succeed, despite the disruptions plaguing news and publishing businesses over the past decade.

And it means fostering renewed collaboration within the company. Among the attributes he sought for the Herald’s new home, O’Connor said, was an open floor plan and enough space for the entire company to work on a single floor. And, he added with a glint of optimism, “room for growth.”

Finally, in the simplest terms, fresh means exactly that — new, clean and efficient. “It’s going to be quite an upgrade, a class A office building,” he said. “This is something good we’re doing for our staff.”

Anyone who has toured our California Street building, which the Herald Co. built in 1959, knows it is a fascinating hodgepodge: three co-joined structures, part barn, part factory and part office space. It is riddled with nooks and storage areas and crisscrossed with passageways. Stairways that connect four multiple working levels are tucked into random corners. It is a place we’ve a grown attached to — like a rattletrap station wagon that’s become a part of family lore.

When the company was sold earlier this year, the Washington Post retained the building and property. And everyone expects to see a “for sale” sign planted along the sidewalk before long.

Although the relocation won’t start until January, O’Connor said he’ll be busy between now and then, directing the three-ring circus that this move represents. It means designing and preparing spaces for a newsroom, advertising and business offices, the Herald Business Journal, La Raza del Noroeste, and technical and operational departments. And the move must be accomplished in a way that allows us to write and publish a daily newspaper at one site on one day — and walk into a new office and do it again the next.

O’Connor expressed confidence that the move, beyond providing a nice work environment, will keep the Herald accessible and convenient to advertising customers and to the public, whose interests we we serve.

“We never entertained thoughts of not staying in Everett,” he said. “It is important to show that we’re a community paper and we’re going to remain part of the community.”

Neal Pattison is executive editor of the Daily Herald. Send him questions or comments at npattison@heraldnet.com.

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