East Valley Tribune Building in Mesa for Sale; Most of Staff Moving to Tempe Office in March

Reporters and ad execs from the war-torn East Valley Tribune will be moving to a Tempe address next month -- and out of the funky old building that's housed a newspaper for 55 years.

In a way, the move will mark the final destruction of the old Mesa Tribune, which published its first edition in 1891. According to a 2009 Trib article, the newspaper moved into its current location at 120 West 1st Avenue in Mesa in 1956, a few months after a fire destroyed its former publishing plant. The paper was given the "East Valley" moniker in 1999 after it began serving the surrounding communities of Chandler, Tempe and Gilbert.

The paper's former owner, Freedom Communications, shed most of the paper's staff in two major rounds of layoffs starting in late 2008.

Freedom sold the company to the Colorado-based Thirteenth Street Media, which promptly laid off a couple-dozen more workers.

However, the sale didn't include the old red-brick building and four-acre property.

If you've got $3.4 million, it's all yours.

The price was recently lowered from $40 to $30 per square foot, says Marc Pierce of Lee and Associates, the company listing the property for Freedom. The building's been up for sale for about six months, but Pierce says he expects to move it at the new price of $3.4 million.

The printing press and other heavy equipment inside the building is being -- or already has been -- moved out, and won't be part of the package, Pierce says.

The 114,000-square-foot building does come with "heavy power" options and light-industrial zoning. And it's in a good location, too -- one block from Main Street in the heart of Mesa's downtown area. Pierce thinks it would be perfect for a vocational school or satellite campus for Mesa Community College. (This ex-Tribber can vouch for the cool factor of the building and its location, but also for its scarce parking spaces and occasional leaking roof.)

For sure, the downtown Mesa area would benefit if the building was once again chock full of employees who would shop and eat in the area.

What's left of the Trib staff, meanwhile, will be shipped out to a comparatively soulless industrial park near Priest and Broadway roads. A separate circulation office will be maintained in Chandler, and the company hopes to open a satellite office in Mesa someday, according to a November article in the Trib.

The newspaper came within a pica of folding completely last year, so while the move represents the end of an era, it also marks a fresh start for the new, smaller-but-still-pulsing East Valley Tribune.