Employees at bankrupt Reader’s Digest Association employees may have to leave their cushy digs near Pleasantville, N.Y., as a result of a restructuring effort now underway.
An RDA spokesman confirmed the company is looking at locations elsewhere, which could include the two New York City addresses where RDA already has offices, at 260 Madison Ave. and on East 34th Street. Given the city’s high real estate occupancy rate, its timing could be worse.
“We are considering all of our options concerning our space needs and haven’t made a final decision,” the rep said.
The 1939 sprawling, Georgian-style headquarters seems out of sync in the cost-cutting climate of publishing today. A vestige of flusher times, it was built by the company’s legendary founders DeWitt and Lila Wallace, who feathered it with art and antiques and showered employees with perks like Thanksgiving turkeys and short work days.
The campus is actually in Chappaqua, N.Y., although RDA was able to keep Pleasantville, where it had been based earlier, as a mailing address.
RDA sold the property in 2004 in an expense-reducing move in 2004 but continued to lease space there. At the time, the company said it needed less than half the space in the campus, then described as covering 690,000 square feet on 114 acres.
For the tradition-bound company, abandoning its suburban New York home of nearly 70 years would be its latest break with the past.
Under president and CEO Mary Berner, who helped take the company private in 2007, the company has replaced its top executives and begun regularly running ads on the back cover of the flagship Reader’s Digest.
Berner even stated her intention to get rid of the company name. (A new one will be announced when the company emerges from bankruptcy.)