Republic moving to building on National Road

Staff Reports

The Republic has found its new home.

The media company plans to move into the former Carrico Furniture building at 2980 National Road, customizing the space into a collaborative work environment that harnesses the latest technology in order to expand offerings for readers and advertisers.

AIM Media Indiana, owner of The Republic, is leasing about 17,000 square feet of the building from RP Realty of Columbus LLP, owned by Robert C. Poynter.

The Republic plans to be in its new office by the end of October, and the building will serve as corporate headquarters for all AIM Media Indiana newspapers.

The building was picked because it offered “open and flexible work space, designed and renovated specifically for our needs,” said Jeremy Halbreich, chairman and CEO of AIM Media Indiana, the owner of The Republic.

Each area will be equipped with the latest technology, and the entire space is being designed with flexibility in mind.

“This space will serve to continue to position The Republic as the most efficient, effective and innovative source in Columbus for local news and information, print advertising, digital advertising and the full range of digital services, direct mail, commercial printing and video,” Halbreich said.

Expect the exterior of the building to undergo a facelift, too.

“The outside of the building will look nothing like it does now,” said Poynter, who has owned the property for five years and used it mostly for storage. “It will have a high-tech look, a completely new exterior.”

Poynter had not aggressively marketed the building since he purchased it from the Stahl family, the owners of Carrico Furniture who closed the business in September 2007.

“I knew it was a nice building — wide open and easy to retrofit,” he said. “I didn’t want a business in there short-term, so I sat back and waited. I am very happy that this all worked out with The Republic.”

The Republic won’t occupy all the space in the 31,200-square-foot building.

Poynter plans to convert a portion of the space that is not used by The Republic into a state-of-the-art conference room with a video wall and other high-tech amenities for community groups and nonprofit agencies to use. He also expects a local technology company to occupy a portion of the building not occupied by The Republic.

Columbus has a need for a conference room with technology wired in for easy interaction with people all around the world, he said.

At The Republic, part of the culture has always been to make sure its work space promotes a collaborative and creative environment, said Chuck Wells, vice president and publisher of The Republic.

“That legacy continues with the design of our new office,” Wells said. “The open floor plan fosters easy communication among departments and creates a warm and energetic environment for our employees and customers. We are excited about it.”

An open house will be planned later this year so the community can tour the new office.

Like many newspapers across the nation, The Republic has been transformed from a newspaper company into a media business, reorganizing its structure and work processes to stay ahead of the changes that have been largely driven by technology.

How readers get their news has changed dramatically, with more accessing stories and information digitally on smartphones and tablets. News and information gathered by newspapers are produced and delivered in new ways and on many platforms.

Because of technology, newspapers no longer need to be tied to massive, sprawling buildings to report and get news to readers. Stories, videos and photos can be uploaded to the Web and social media sites with a smartphone, and pages are designed electronically, as well.

The Republic’s new home also puts it in the midst of a bustling retail corridor, close to customers with easy access off a major thoroughfare and plenty of parking.

“It’s very visible to all of Columbus and has great neighbors including the new Kroger, FairOaks Mall, the two Bob Poynter auto showrooms and lots of restaurants,” Halbreich said.

Poynter expects redevelopment to continue along U.S. 31, past his auto dealership and Kroger Marketplace.

“Columbus’ heart beat is U.S. 31,” he said.

Jeff Marshall of Design & Planning of Columbus is overseeing design of the work space. Driftwood Builders Inc. of Columbus is the general contractor.

The building The Republic currently occupies in downtown Columbus at 333 Second St. has been sold to Columbus Regional Health.

AIM Media Indiana owns and operates daily newspapers and related websites in Columbus, Franklin, Greenfield and Seymour; weekly newspapers and related websites in Brownstown, Edinburgh, Nashville, New Palestine and Pendleton; a variety of other weekly, monthly and shopper publications and related websites; digital marketing agency DigitalAIM; and a commercial printing business serving a broad range of clients.