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Pressing on with expansion

Fort Wayne Newspapers breaks ground on new building

This article was originally published March 1, 2006:

On a bright, chilly Tuesday morning, five pairs of hands, each grasping a gleaming shovel, dug into a pile of dirt at a downtown site.

That token gesture at the junction of Van Buren and Main streets marked the groundbreaking ceremony for Fort Wayne Newspapers' new press building that will house a state-of-the art printing press. About 50 people attended the groundbreaking.

Fort Wayne Newspapers is the business agent of The Journal Gazette and The News-Sentinel. It is formed through a partnership between The Journal Gazette Co. and Knight Ridder Inc., which owns The News-Sentinel.

Fort Wayne Newspapers is investing $34.8 million in the expansion project, which includes constructing a 47,000-square-foot reddish brick building and purchasing a new press built by Tokyo Kikai Seisakusho Ltd. in Japan.

"I can't think of a more important commitment that is being made by these two important newspapers working hand in glove to lead this community," Mayor Graham Richard said in his address. "The city of Fort Wayne is proud through the Community Revitalization Enhancement District (state tax credits) to be a part of this."

Richard said he hopes that this major investment will be followed by many more investments in downtown Fort Wayne.

Earlier, the president of Dario Designs Inc., the architecture firm which designed the reddish brick building, said that the design and color of the building will be consistent with the local surroundings.

"It's the concept of contextualism in architecture which makes a building fit into its context," Dario DiMare said.

If it is not appropriate to reflect elements in the surrounding area, the architect's job is to improve the look and feel of the vicinity through the design of the new building or architectural feature being developed, DiMare said.

He added that because part of the building that will house the press is 86 feet tall, he made sure that the building will taper off slightly as it approaches residential buildings on Main Street.

Describing the building under construction as "magnificent," Steve Broas, the president and CEO of Fort Wayne Newspapers and the publisher of The News Sentinel, said it complements the local architecture. Broas also said the project should benefit local businesses who will get contracting work. Last week, local general contractor Weigand Construction Inc. was selected to construct the building.

"We are proud to say that Weigand Construction is committed to partnering with local subcontractors," Broas said. "We are proud and excited to be able to make a substantial investment in this community."

The same pride was reflected in the address of Julie Inskeep, the publisher of The Journal Gazette, who talked about how each of the newspapers was established in the Summit City.

"Fort Wayne has a long and wonderfully strong newspaper tradition, and there is much pride in the buildings that we have occupied," Inskeep said. "This investment demonstrates our belief that newspapers hold a strong place in our future, and it shows our continuing commitment to great buildings in downtown Fort Wayne."

That strength will be bolstered by the quality of the newspapers produced by the new printing press.

The approximately 60-foot Japanese vertical press has the ability to print 48 pages back-to-back in full color.

It is also capable of printing up to 90,000 papers an hour, dwarfing the current press's capacity of up to about 55,000 papers an hour. The new building should be ready to house the press in January.