Coming in 2017: The Sandy Springs Journal-Constitution?

Metro ATL’s daily paper to move from Dunwoody to Sandy Springs


  • Courtesy SSJC

Five years ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution left the capital city behind for new suburban digs in Dunwoody. Now, it appears the daily paper will make another move, this time down down the road, less than a mile away, to Sandy Springs.

In an internal memo this morning, AJC Publisher Amy Glennon informed staffers that the paper would relocate to parent company Cox Enterprises’ campus, located within walking distance on Peachtree Dunwoody Road, once its lease expires in late 2017.

Andy McDill, senior director of communications at Cox Media Group, tells CL that the owners of 223 Perimeter Center, the current headquarters of the AJC and Cox Media Group, decided not to renew the lease. Inside the newsroom, some staffers speculate that the move was fueled by Dunwoody’s booming development market, most notably following the announcement of a 17-acre development along Hammond Drive that will include shops, offices, and a new State Farm operations center expected to employ thousands of workers.

A push to further develop the area, we’re told by sources, helped drive up land prices. But McDill says the relocation decision “made financial sense to the company” given the construction of Cox’s corporate headquarters in the vicinity.

“This development has no impact on our decision to move to the new facility, which is less than one mile from the current facility, since our AJC and Cox Media Group Corporate Shared Services teams already resided in the area,” McDill tells CL in an email.

Back in Dec. 2012, Sandy Springs officials gave Cox approximately $1.4 million in financial incentives to build a shiny new 19-story tower.

Dunwoody spokesman Bob Mullen tells CL that city officials are always looking to prevent businesses from leaving its borders. But he says the writing was on the wall for the paper’s departure given its new corporate headquarters.

“We had an idea that it would probably be inevitable that they would move at some point in time,” Mullen says.

Some AJC employees consider the move to be a positive one from an underwhelming building to a corporate campus filled with a subsidized cafeteria, walking trail, gym, and other amenities.

“It makes total sense,” one AJC staffer tells CL. “I’m shocked that it didn’t come earlier.”

But it could come, one source speculates, at the cost of the paper’s relative independence from its corporate overlords. The grunts, once located down the street, will now be much closer to the bigwigs.

For now, McDill says the relocation isn’t expected to affect the newsroom’s operations — at least in terms of reporting and writing the news.

“There will be no impact to newsroom operations as a result of this move,” McDill says. “They will continue providing award-winning fair and balanced reporting as they always have. There will be no staffing implications as a result of this move.”

You can read today’s internal memo, which CL obtained from internal sources, after the jump:

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AJC colleagues,

I have some important facilities news to share with you that you’ll start hearing more about in the coming year.

CMG has been advised that the owners of the 223 Perimeter Center building, which we rent, are not renewing CMG’s lease in late 2017. The AJC, along with the Corporate Shared Services groups that share the 223 building, will move to the Cox campus and into Cox-owned space at 6325 Peachtree Dunwoody Road that is currently occupied by Manheim.

Cox Automotive recently announced that Manheim employees currently occupying this space will be vacating the eight-story 6325 building in 2016 as part of consolidating to fewer locations. These moves are examples of how Cox continues to make the most efficient use of our real estate and helps us reduce our overall operating costs.

The AJC’s relocation is not expected to take place until 2017 when our lease at 223 Perimeter Center expires, but CMG will quickly inform employees of any developments that impact our employees. Attached is a map of the Cox campus and a photo of our future home.

By residing on the Cox campus, our divisions also will realize even stronger collaboration and best practices in areas like digital, research and employee training. Our CMG employees will also have covered parking, an on-site dining center and more immediate access to other valuable services at Cox’s headquarters, like conference facilities and fitness centers.

Finally, we know transportation for employees is a key concern. Employees who commute via MARTA can continue to use their partially-subsidized MARTA pass. A Cox shuttle service operates frequently from the Medical Center and Dunwoody transit stations, and the Sandy Springs stations is only a few minutes-walk from the new location.

Please let me know if you have any initial questions, and we will keep you updated as new developments become available.