Most big media companies based in New York are, in one way or another, also investors in real estate – the Hearst Tower, New York Times Building, the Time Warner Center, and Condé Nast’s digs at 4 Times Square to name a few. But most don’t flex their real estate muscle outside the city limits […]
Most big media companies based in New York are, in one way or another, also investors in real estate – the Hearst Tower, New York Times Building, the Time Warner Center, and Condé Nast’s digs at 4 Times Square to name a few.
But most don’t flex their real estate muscle outside the city limits – and those that do almost certainly don’t invest in residential Detroit.
According to the Detroit Free Press, however, Time Inc. is doing just that. The publishing arm of Time Warner bought a 95-year-old house in Detroit’s West Village neighborhood. The gray, three-story stucco home “will serve as a base of operations for months — and perhaps a couple of years — as [Time Inc.’s] various publications cast a unique spotlight on Detroit and chronicle its increasingly desperate struggle to reinvent itself.”
According to the paper, Time Inc. paid $99,000, cash, for the property. Why Time Inc. wouldn’t have chosen to rent its reporters, say, a $1,500 per month apartment is not clear. Even if they leased it for two years, that would be $36,000 — not to mention the money would save on property taxes and the trouble with selling it. The home, which sold for $252,000 in 2007, had been vacant for more than two years. (The company could stand to save wherever it can — reporting a 22 percent drop in revenues for the Time Inc. unit during the second quarter.)
Time Inc. has done this sort of journalistic immersion thing before, but never through buying real estate. Two years after Hurricane Katrina, John Huey, Time Inc.’s editor-in-chief, took 12 of the company’s editors on a two-day tour of New Orleans. The result: 10 Time Inc. magazines ran articles on the flood-ravaged city that August.
According to a 2007 article in the New York Times, the idea for the group trip came after Martha Nelson, People magazine’s group editor, attended a wedding in New Orleans.
“I came back thinking that the Katrina story really wasn’t over,” she said. “And while some people had moved on, the city of New Orleans was still dealing with it in every aspect.”
So which Time Inc. editor attended a bar mitzvah in Detroit this time?
The company is not ready to talk about it. But you can be sure there will be articles about the distressed auto capital turning up in Time, sooner or later.
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