WarnerMedia announced today that it will sell the legendary CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, the building that served as the global headquarters for CNN for nearly 30 years (1987-2014). However, the move will not lessen the company’s commitment to the city of Atlanta, and the process will take “several years,” WarnerMedia CFO Pascal Desroches wrote in a memo sent to staff earlier today.
The transition has been in the works for some time now. Time Warner was already assessing the company’s Atlanta operations prior to the merger with AT&T, writes Desroches, and this resulted in extensive renovations to the Techwood Turner Broadcasting campus, located in midtown Atlanta by Georgia Tech, including a state-of-the-art master control distribution facility. At the time, the company was also considering the best future use of the CNN Center. These discussions were put on hold until the completion of the merger.
“Now that we’ve had time to further evaluate, we’ve concluded that the best course of action is to sell the CNN Center,” Desroches writes in the memo. Employees working in the CNN Center shouldn’t expect any immediate changes, however.
CNN International and HLN, along with the network’s technical operations, still have a significant presence in Atlanta, but the entire CNN U.S. programming weekday, from 4 a.m.-11 p.m. ET, originates from either New York or Washington, D.C.
The CNN Center also happens to house a precinct of the Atlanta Police Department, and includes myriad restaurants and tourist attractions. It opened in 1976, and CNN assumed occupancy in 1987 (after spending its first seven years of existence on the Techwood campus). Turner has been selling off parts of the complex in recent years. It sold its 50% stake in the Omni Hotel, part of the CNN Center, in 2016.
In addition to the staff memo, shown below, CNN provided TVNewser with the following statement: “We are consolidating our WarnerMedia Atlanta operations in our recently renovated and redesigned Techwood campus. This will increase collaboration and optimize use of Techwood, which was created to be a state-of-the-art hub for our diverse business portfolio. As part of these changes we are selling the CNN Center, which is a retail center, well positioned in the downtown entertainment area of the city. Once sold, we will lease back the property for a minimum of five years. There will be no immediate impact to employees working at the CNN Center.”
TVNewser obtained the internal memo that had been sent to WarnerMedia staff, shown below:
To: WarnerMedia employees based in Atlanta and AT&T employees based at CNN Center From: Pascal Desroches, Chief Financial Officer, WarnerMedia Subject: CNN Center – Property Update
A part of efficiently running a business is constantly examining the operations to make sure we’re making the best use of our assets, including real estate. Prior to its sale to AT&T, Time Warner was assessing the company’s Atlanta operations. This resulted in extensive renovations to the Techwood campus, including a state-of-the-art Master Control distribution facility. At the time, we were also considering the best future use of the CNN Center. These discussions were put on hold until the completion of the merger. Now that we’ve had time to further evaluate, we’ve concluded that the best course of action is to sell the CNN Center.
Downtown Atlanta has seen great investment and is quickly becoming an entertainment destination. The CNN Center is of great value to a third party that specializes in such developments.
This move in no way should suggest that WarnerMedia is less committed to Atlanta. Following the sale of the CNN Center, we plan to centralize most of our employees on the Techwood campus. This process will take several years, so we don’t expect any immediate changes for employees working at the CNN Center. Similar to Hudson Yards in Manhattan and the announcement of new office space in Los Angeles at Ivy Station, we feel the long-term benefit of being in one location will be a more collaborative workforce.
We recognize the historical relevance of the CNN Center. Ted Turner was a true pioneer who reinvented media when he launched the 24-hour news channel in 1980. WarnerMedia was proud to play a part in solidifying Ted’s legacy last December with the dedication of our Techwood campus to him, the unveiling of a commissioned mural portrait on our campus and a donation to the University of Georgia, in partnership with the Turner Family and Turner Enterprises, that established the Ted Turner Exhibition Hall & Gallery at UGA’s library, the Ted Turner Scholarship Fund and the Ted Turner Maverick internship.
Again, this will be a lengthy process and we will keep you informed as necessary along the way.