Orlando Sentinel shuttering its longtime offices

Downtown building has been largely vacant for months.

The Orlando Sentinel is walking away from its downtown office, a building hardly used during the coronavirus crisis and at least three months arrears in rent.

The decision to vacate the property, announced Wednesday in an online story written by the Sentinel’s Managing Editor Roger Simmons, represents another step in the evolution of newspapers toward smaller, less-complex businesses.

The Sentinel said it would formally close the office building on N. Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando on Oct. 30.

There was no indication of whether the Sentinel will find new office space.

Most Orlando Sentinel employees have been working remotely for five months as the coronavirus outbreak shut down many office environments throughout the economy.

For newspapers, however, the crisis might have hastened but not caused the exodus.

Most of the buildings that once comprised the Sentinel’s two-block campus had been vacant or sparsely occupied for several years as the paper downsized, consolidated, and outsourced some services. The newspaper’s print edition has been published out of Lakeland since 2017 and the paper’s printing plant building, adjacent to the main office building, has been vacant since.

The Sentinel and its parent company, Tribune Publishing, have not owned the land or buildings since 2014, when the previous parent company Tribune Co., was split up, and the newspaper real estate division and all its properties were spun off.

The Sentinel noted Wednesday that the real estate and buildings now are owned by Midtown Opportunities in Miami.

The Sentinel’s story Wednesday also said the paper was sued by its landlord for not paying rent for three months during the coronavirus pandemic, and that court records show Midtown Opportunities was owed about $370,000 for rent from April through June. The Sentinel has asked the court for rent relief.

Sentinel Publisher Nancy Meyer said in Wednesday’s story the decision to “permanently vacate” the offices was not made lightly or hastily. She said the company will examine workplace needs in coming months. Until any longterm decisions are made, employees will be asked to continue working remotely.

The Sentinel has been headquartered there since 1951.

The main building, once an iconic edifice anchoring the northern end of downtown, fell into some disrepair over recent decades. The Tribune Co. and the subsequent real estate owners had periodically fielded inquiries for the properties, but reportedly found little interest in the main building. The properties also include several parking lots and other buildings. It’s all in a region that not long ago was envisioned as a hot new development area in downtown Orlando.

Other Tribune Publishing newspapers, including the South Florida Sun Sentinel, announced Wednesday they will not return to their buildings until 2021, the Sentinel reported. Three other company newspapers, the New York Daily News, the Allentown Morning Call in Pennsylvania and the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., will join the Sentinel in permanently leaving their current office space.

The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald announced in June that its employees would continue to work from home through the end of 2020 and that their Doral offices would be vacated this month.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


  • Sonja Fitch

    August 12, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Changes needed! But we have to protect our newspapers!

  • Ron Ogden

    August 12, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    No, this does not “represent another step in the evolution of newspapers. . .” This represents another step toward the ultimate demise of newspapers–especially Demi rags like the Sentinel/Herald. I don’t seem to recall hearing that the Wall Street Journal or the NY Post are closing their office, nor cutting back on print. Wonder why?

  • Palmer Tom

    August 12, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    I was in the newspaper business in central Florida for 45 years. This is sad news.

  • Philip Whitby

    August 13, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    This is sad news. I recently stopped my home delivery after well over 35 years. I just got tired of spending my money on a news business supporting a left leaning agenda. They would do a better job listening to their base subscribers rather than the dictate of a big city publishing company.

Comments are closed.


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