• Times Argus building to be sold
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     | March 21,2013
     

    BARRE — Less than a year after it was placed on the market, the building housing the Times Argus offices at 540 N. Main St. is under contract to be sold.

    President and Publisher R. John Mitchell said Wednesday the building, which was listed at $895,000, is the subject of a signed purchase and sale agreement with Metro, a Barre-based real estate company owned by Thomas and Karen Lauzon.

    Neither party would disclose the sale price. The sale remains contingent on an inspection of the building, Mitchell said.

    The pending building sale now provides Mitchell with the opportunity to finally move the daily newspaper’s operations back to the center of downtown. Mitchell and his staff have been looking at several properties as a possible rental.

    Currently, the Times Argus building supports the newsroom, Subscriber Services and advertising departments, and serves as the distribution center each night for the paper’s independent contracted motor carriers.

    The facility has not had an operational press since May 2011, when fast-rising floodwaters caused significant damage to the printing and mailroom divisions of the operation. The Times Argus and its sister paper, the Rutland Herald, are now printed at Upper Valley Press in North Haverhill, N.H.

    As Barre has seen a resurgence in its downtown in the last few years, Mitchell has been eager to return the paper’s operations to the heart of the city, hopefully by this summer. The Times Argus had been located along Main Street until 1973, when it moved operations to the location on North Main Street.

    The sale of the 23,000-square-foot building will have no effect on the newspaper’s staff or operations.

    In an interview Wednesday, Thomas Lauzon said he had no specific plans for the space but is entertaining several ideas that have yet to come to fruition.

    “(That) property is a perfect complement to the existing Metro portfolio. Over the years, we’ve had a great deal of success with mixed-use commercial/industrial properties,” he said. “I watched with great interest when this property went on the market last year and am surprised no one made a serious play for acquisition until now. The available parking and yard area, which is at a premium throughout central Vermont, couldn’t be better.”

    Lauzon, the city’s mayor, owns several key buildings in downtown, including the Aldrich Block. Citywide, he and his wife own more than 500,000 square feet of commercial real estate in Barre.

    Lauzon said he has already shown the conceptual design for the Times Argus building to a number of potential tenants. “I have no doubt that we’ll execute the planned changes well and fill the space,” he said. “... It will make a great summer project and keep a few contractors busy.”

    Lauzon said negotiating the purchase with Mitchell was “a pleasure.”

    “You know, in all the years I’ve done this, no seller has ever reached out their hand, shook mine and said, ‘We have a deal.’ It’s a testament to the way John does business. It’s pretty obvious that John’s word means more than a legal document.”

    Lauzon said that over the next few months, Metro will perform a structural analysis and environmental assessment, incorporate design changes and plan for a major renovation of the building configuration and systems.

    “We can’t wait to get started,” he said.

    In the meantime, as Mitchell and his staff search for a new office, Times Argus customers should continue to use the 540 N. Main St. location.

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