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Struggling newspapers across U.S. are selling off their HQ sites

The Boston Herald isn’t alone in selling off its old print and newsroom facilities and moving into leased spaces elsewhere, as the newspaper industry continues it long decline. Other newspapers across the country are also starting to sell their real estate, as they try to extract as much value as possible out of their assets.

As for the Herald, here’s how the Bloomberg story put it:

In Massachusetts, builder National Development plans to early this year begin the redevelopment of the former home of the Boston Herald, razing the old building and constructing a mixed-use property with 85,000 square feet of retail space and 475 residential units, according to Theodore Tye, a managing partner at the Newton Lower Falls, Massachusetts-based company.

“This is a very unique opportunity to build an iconic project in a very high-density area in Boston,” Tye said in a telephone interview. “There aren’t too many six-acre sites available in prime downtown locations.”

The Herald is now leasing a smaller office building in the city’s Seaport District “simply because we did not need all the space,” Gwen Gage, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.

Though it’s not downtown, we can think of another perhaps soon-to-be-available multi-acre site opening up along Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester — and with easy access to the Southeast Expressway and Red Line, too. Not that we want it to come to that. The Globe’s a great newspaper.

File under: Hold the presses!

Cranes, cranes, everywhere cranes

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Considering where the economy was four years ago this month (think: Lehman Brothers, TARP, Too Big Too Fail, etc.), it’s pretty amazing how far the Boston economy has recovered, especially in the construction field.

The Globe reports there’s a total of 4.3 million square feet of new commercial and lab space under construction today in the Boston area, up from 400,000 square feet last year. The Herald, meanwhile, is reporting on AvalonBay’s latest apartment-tower project, just a small fraction of the 5,000 units approved for construction in the city.

Sure, it’s not exactly boom times around here. But just look at all the cranes in and around the city, and it’s pretty impressive and encouraging.

File under: More cranes, please

First Liberty Wharf restaurant set to open

Soon, they say – end of March – the first of five new restaurants will open at Liberty Wharf, the $65 million development on the site of the former Jimmy’s Harborside. The first to open will be a Mexican restaurant, Temazcal Tequila Cantina. It’s not going for your average Tex-Mex fare. On the menu: roast suckling pig and … some kind of exotic fungus that grows on corn stalks. Sure, fine – keep the tequila coming.

The other three places: Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, another Jerry Remy’s, another Legal Seafoods, and an as-yet-unnamed number five.

Fed Reserve Boston: Local economy on upswing

Again, there’s definitely some light at the end of this long tunnel. The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Beige Book report sums up the regional economy as “generally positive, albeit moderate.” Among the sectors reporting steady though moderate growth: manufacturing, retail and business services. Of course, residential real estate remains “in the doldrums” but commercial real estate is showing signs of stability as 2010 drew to a close.

The Beige Book report points out that though the number of single-family homes and condos fell below 2009 levels, median prices continue to march up (except in New Hampshire). We all know real estate sales improvement only comes after general economy improvement, so all this is hopeful.

Massachusetts lab with a view: developer unveils 15-story Boston waterfront lab idea

Developer Joseph Fallon is showing the city today his plans for a 15-story mix of retail and commercial space right on Boston Harbor, adjacent to the new Fed courthouse on Fan Pier. The idea is for retails and shops to occupy the bottom floors, and floors two to seven (that’s six floors) to be laboratory space. Office space is for the upper floors. Does the city want a towering laboratory on the harbor? Would a future condo or rental development want to be sited next to that? We’ll see.

Now a commercial real estate recovery?

Comparing residential and commercial real estate to each other is like the proverbial apples-to-oranges comparison: They’re not quite the same.

But there are similarities between the two that reflect overall market conditions, just as both apples and oranges require water and sunshine to grow.

So it’s encouraging to see that the planned sale of the One Brigham Circle office-and-retail complex, in the Longwood Medical Area, is seen as a beginning of a potential turnaround in the local commercial market.

If so, it tends to confirm what we’ve being seeing on the housing front in the Boston area.

File under: Good news.

Boston Commercial Real Estate

Sales of Boston-area commercial properties plummeted 86.5 percent last year, with about $1.35 billion in property changing hands compared to $10 billion in a red-hot 2007, according to the global real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.