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Qwest Communications Sell 16-Story Building to Omaha World-Herald

Omaha World-Herald
Tuesday, April 4, 2006

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Qwest Communications Inc. sold its 16-story building to the Omaha World- Herald for $26.5 million, but will keep some employees in the building for at least 10 more years.

John Gottschalk, chairman and chief executive of the Omaha World-Herald Co., announced the purchase of the 470,000-square-foot Qwest building on Monday.

Qwest turned around and signed a 10-year lease for eight of the floors to house about 700 to 800 employees.

Selling the building just made good business sense, said Rex Fisher, president of Qwest's Nebraska operations.

The building had been up for sale for four years, and the Omaha World-Herald purchase was in the works for about two years.

The building was constructed a little more than 25 years ago as the Northwestern Bell Telephone Co.'s corporate headquarters.  At the time, Northwestern Bell had 4,000 workers, 2,000 of whom occupied the new building.

Now its successor, Qwest, has 1,700 employees in Omaha, 700 to 800 of whom will stay in the building.

Fisher said Qwest will make better use of the parts of other buildings it occupies:  the Landmark Building, which the company sold in the mid-1990s, and a building it co-owns with AT&T at 19th and Douglas streets.

The Qwest logo, installed just a few years ago, will remain on the building, Fisher said.

The company had cut its work force in the past four years, due to debt, cost cutting and the ability of modern technology to run systems with fewer people.

Omaha World-Herald will move from its 57-year-old building on 13th and Douglas Streets and also give up space in the nearby Landmark Building.  The building will be rented, leased or leave it as open space.

Printing, delivery and production work will remain in the 4 1/2-year-old Freedom Center just a couple blocks away.

Information from: Omaha World-Herald,