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Naples-based NCH Healthcare System now owns the multimillion-dollar Immokalee Road building and property that have been home to the Naples Daily News headquarters since 2009. 

The sale closed Tuesday afternoon for $27,985,000said Andrew Saluan of Naples-based AJS Realty Group, which represented NCH in the real estate transaction. The closing price is significantly less than the construction costs 11 years ago for the more than 186,000-square-foot building on about 20 acres. 

Plans call for the relocation of several NCH administrative support functions, such as accounting, billing, IT, business office, supply chain, system warehousing and other departments to move from the NCH Central Campus at 2157 Pine Ridge Road to the newly acquired building, which is a couple of blocks west of the NCH North Naples Hospital campus. Additionally, NCH human resources, marketing and some other non-clinical support services that are located on NCH’s two hospital campuses also will relocate to the new property. The move is expected to be completed early next spring, NCH reports. 

“We’re looking forward to increasing some of our operational efficiencies by relocating our support services to the new space,” said Paul Hiltz, president and CEO of the NCH Healthcare System. “The move of some departments out of the hospital will also give us the opportunity to evaluate how we can better utilize those spaces to enhance patient care. This strategic location helps position us for growth.” 

The Naples Daily News is actively negotiating a deal with NCH for plans to lease back part of the North Naples building. Because of the pandemic, NDN employees have been working remotely since March. In mid-2009, the newspaper and its then more than 300 employees moved from an aging 80,000-square-foot headquarters on Central Avenue in Naples to the newly built $95 million plant on Immokalee Road. The North Naples building has 60,000 square feet of office space, 120,000 square feet of industrial space, a video studio and 10 loading docks.  

The move was made out of the city of Naples and into unincorporated Collier County to accommodate a new four-story press that exceeded the city’s 42-foot building height limits. The Swiss-made press was designed to reduce waste and money with its capability to print 90,000 newspaper copies per hour with full color available on every page. In February, the printing operation at the Naples Daily News was relocated to Sarasota, a move that eliminated nearly 50 jobs and the need for the press in Naples. The state-of-the-art press and packaging system at the Naples plant were scrapped months ago.   

The press consolidation was motivated by an economic effort to cut operating costs after the November 2019 merger of New Media Investment Group, the owner of GateHouse newspapers, with Gannett, the parent of USA Today, Naples Daily News and the Fort Myers News-Press. The newspaper industry’s declining revenue has made it exceedingly less profitable in the digital age.  

In another recent move representative of Gannett’s downsizing, Bill Barker is stepping down Friday as publisher and president of the Naples Daily NewsNews-Press and other Gannett newspaper properties he has been responsible for overseeing since 2013. Barker is just the latest loss for a local news operation shrinking through layoffs, buyouts and attrition.  

In 2000, the Naples Daily News newsroom included more than 100 staff members. In 2009, the newsroom roster declined to about 80 before the Daily News moved into the North Naples office. Now, fewer than 25 journalists remain employed at the local newspaper.

The Naples newspaper had declined from its peak press run of more than 107,000 newspapers years ago to what is estimated to be fewer than 40,000 daily newspapers today.

Photo Credit: WINK News

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