Local Developer Buys San Diego Union-Tribune

Doug Manchester, Others Purchase U-T, Property It Sits On

The San Diego Union-Tribune and its property have been sold to a group led by local real estate mogul Doug Manchester.

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Details of the sale were not released, but one critic told 10News the sale is not good for U-T employees and subscribers of the printed version of the newspaper.

The Union-Tribune's headquarters and printing facility are situated on 13 acres of land in the heart of Mission Valley.

In a statement released Thursday, Manchester said:

"We look forward to building on the foundation that has been established by current management and ownership, serving the community and working towards a fully integrated digital and print news media platform."

Former U-T financial editor Don Bauder said he was skeptical of Manchester's motives.

"Manchester is interested in real estate. He's not interested in the media and never has been," Bauder said from his home in Colorado.

Bauder predicted Manchester will redevelop the property, either by moving the U-T operations or getting rid of it all together.

"Possibly to abandon the print edition and just go strictly online, and then they could locate the online place in a much cheaper place," said Bauder.

That plan would free Manchester, who developed some of San Diego's famous bayfront hotels, to redevelop the U-T property. Bauder predicted Manchester's group paid less than $52 million.

San Diego State University real estate professor Leonard Baron told 10News the two buildings and property are probably worth about $45 million, but he had no idea what Manchester paid. Baron also added it would be very hard to develop that property.

"The zoning rules down in Mission Valley, the traffic patterns near that site, the traffic patterns overall in Mission Valley, and the restrictions make that a challenging site," said Baron.

Bauder agreed it could take years for Manchester to redevelop the site, but conceded he would develop it eventually.

Local media executive John Lynch, who will serve as the new president and CEO of the Union-Tribune, emailed 10News this statement after hearing about Bauder's interview:

"I don't know where Mr. Bauder receives his information but it is inaccurate. We are committed to building a very strong integrated media company. The price is in excess of 2x's that amount [of what Bauder predicted]. The UT is a 143 year old business and one of the Jewels of San Diego. It reaches over 1,000,000 San Diegans through the newspaper and its digital properties. It is a very significant business. We also intend to be a positive force in San Diego supporting all that is good in our community."

Details of the sale aren't expected to be released, but it is expected to be finalized before December 15.

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