The newspaper will continue serving the community
CANANDAIGUA — Yes, the two-story building that has housed the operations of the Daily Messenger for two decades, is for sale but the newspaper is not going anywhere.
"First, we will continue to serve this community as we always have. That will not change," said Messenger Post Media General Manager Beth Kesel. "This sale comes during a time when this community, like others across the country, are reeling from the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and challenging economic times ... and this newspaper is no different.”
The listing price for the roughly 38,000-square-foot structure is $1.5 million, according to Aidan Cleghorn, a partner at BellCornerstone, which specializes in commercial real estate and is handling the sale.
No doubt, seeing a “for sale” sign out front of the newspaper office on Buffalo Street will come as a surprise to the Canandaigua and Ontario County community — and to former colleagues who worked long and hard to inform readers of the days’ events over the years from their home away from home.
The decision to sell was not made lightly.
"We'll continue to be here for the community, as we always have been," Kesel said.
Indeed, this award-winning, community-oriented newspaper traces its history back to 1796 — when the first edition of The Ontario Gazette & Western Chronicle, a direct ancestor of the Daily Messenger, was first printed. And its roots in Canandaigua also run deep; the newspaper operation moved here from Geneva in 1799.
Fast forward to the 20th century and the Daily Messenger, as it became known in 1907, moved from its Phoenix Street location to the current address, 73 Buffalo St., in 1971, under the ownership of George M. Ewing Sr., who acquired the newspaper in 1959. A son, George M. Ewing Jr., became president and publisher of the Canandaigua Messenger Inc. in 1993.
Construction on the larger building — which was expanded to help accommodate a growing media company that includes the Post weekly newspapers (formerly Wolfe) in Monroe County — was completed in 2000.
Several options for the future are being considered, including a smaller office locally or potentially renting the current space back from whoever the new owner will be.
This is not a situation unique to Canandaigua; in fact, newspapers in cities large and small have been moving out of legacy headquarters into smaller offices, including the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
The 53,350-square-foot historic building on Exchange Boulevard in Rochester that once housed the corporate headquarters for publishing company Gannett Co. Inc. was sold in 2016. The company's news, advertising, marketing, digital strategy, and business operations moved to a smaller location at East Main Street and South Clinton Avenue, also in Rochester.
Frankly, much smaller digital newsrooms of today no longer require the space they did in the past.
The Daily Messenger building has been closed to the public since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning that employees in news, sales, and circulation departments have been working from home the last few months.
That will continue for the foreseeable future, regardless of the status of the building sale.
The Daily Messenger will continue to follow what people are doing in Canandaigua, Victor, Manchester, Naples and Phelps, and what the people of Shortsville, Honeoye, Richmond and Clifton Springs are interested in.
If something is happening in East and West Bloomfield — or the village of Bloomfield — or Bristol and South Bristol, the Daily Messenger will be there.
And if COVID-19 ever loosens its grip, the Daily Messenger will be there for Canandaigua Academy’s opening kickoff, whenever that may be.