Houston & Peach

Telegraph relocating Warner Robins office

The Telegraph is selling the building that houses its Warner Robins office to Houston Healthcare and moving to a new office near Ga. 247. Negotiations are in the final stages, and the deal is expected to close before the end of August.

The newspaper this week will move its operations from 1553 Watson Boulevard to an office park at 16B Green Street, off of Ga. 247. Publisher George McCanless said even though the newspaper has found a new location, it remains committed to Houston County coverage. The move will not cause a change in staffing levels, he added.

“This in no way is, can be or should be taken as a reflection on us pulling back in any way, shape or form from Houston and Peach counties,” he said. “There are no plans to reduce news or advertising resources.”

The nearly 1-acre property includes two connected buildings. It was formerly the site of The Daily Sun, which The Telegraph’s former owner, Knight-Ridder Inc., purchased in 1997. Knight-Ridder was later bought out by The Telegraph’s current owner, The McClatchy Co. of Sacramento, Calif.

Newspaper and health-care officials have discussed a purchase price for the building in the ballpark of $750,000. The public health system began inquiring about the facility several months ago.

Skip Philips, the CEO of Houston Healthcare, said it will be used primarily to support ambulance services at first and then other services down the road. He said hospital officials began in late 2008 to look countywide for space to put ambulance operations under one roof.

Currently, some ambulances are based out of the emergency room, which is itself growing, and others are housed in a rented facility elsewhere, he said.

“This would consolidate everybody into space that we own,” Philips said, pointing out that it sits right next to the Houston Medical Center. “That seemed like a good location for us.”

The deal is one of many to come for the hospital, with officials saying real estate east of the hospital’s main building is being scooped up when it comes available.

“Some time in the future, if we get to the point where we can’t grow, that’s the only way we can go,” said Sonny Watson, chairman of the Houston Hospitals board. “We’re looking 10 to 15 years in the future … for hospital growth.”

As for The Telegraph’s building, Watson said, renovations could begin a week after the sale is made official.

He said an environmental impact study being done on the property could delay both parties signing off on the sale for another two weeks.

“But we’re ready to close it now,” he said.

Telegraph Staff writer Marlon Walker contributed to this report. To contact writer Matt Barnwell, call 744-4251.