Downtown TV channel could move to suburbs

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A new home for TV and streaming stations WOIO Channel 19, WUAB Channel 43 and WTCL Channel 6.1, which broadcasts all 19 News, could be built on a high-profile site in Independence if the pieces of what is sure to be a multimillion-dollar project come together.

Gray Television Inc. (NYSE: GTN), the massive Atlanta-based media company, on Monday (July 18) applied to the city of Independence for a conditional use certificate to construct a two-story “television building” on a site visible from the southeast corner of the I-90 and I-77 interchange.

The parcel has over 300 feet of highway frontage. It is accessed from Rockside Woods Boulevard and is located between the Embassy Suites hotel and Topgolf.

The 3.2 acre parcel was the proposed home of a Saucy Brew Works headquarters and brewery in the works since 2019. The plan was scrapped in March after the Cleveland-based company found it could meet its expansion needs at its Ohio City site.

The site, owned by Saucy Brew Works Independence LLC, is marketed for $3.2 million by Cushman & Wakefield CRESCO. In a marketing brochure, he notes that the site is “ready to go”. Land records don’t show what Saucy shelled out for the site in 2018.

A drawing of a potential site plan filed with the City of Independence shows a 37,000 square foot building with television studios, a media room, an employee patio, 12 satellite dishes and a communications tower . The site plan shows parking for 132 cars, including separate parking lots and entrances for employees and visitors.

Gray is required to obtain a Suburban Conditional Use Certificate to build on the site as it offers office and television use on land zoned for hotel, motel and automobile related use. The Independence Planning Commission set a public audience on the app at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2

The Independence Commission and City Council have approved such conditional use certificates in the past. Indeed, Saucy’s plans received the same designation.

If the suburb approves the plan, Gray completes the purchase of the land, and construction proceeds, it would put a move of the downtown Cleveland home from the media properties into play.

The shared information operations of CBS affiliate WOIO, CW affiliate WUAB and Telemundo affiliate WTCL and their business offices are located in leased space at Reserve Square, 1717 East 12th St. East corner 12th and Chester Avenue outside TV stations is often used. for Channel 19 News live shots.

The 50,000 square foot lease of Reserve Square space was renewed for 10 years in 2017 after a public dispute between its management at the time and the owner of the K&D Group building in Willoughby over the terms of the property, although that the broadcast stations remained in the structure.

The loss of a downtown television presence would be a blow to the central city in terms of an unknown number of possible job losses as well as prestige. It would also be a break from Fox 8, WEWS Channel 5 and the Ideastream Public Media stations, all of which are located downtown.

However, cleveland.com operations are now based in Brooklyn at the newspaper’s printing plant after the Plain Dealer Publishing Co. sold the newsroom and downtown offices at 1801 Superior Ave. in May to a subsidiary of Industrial Commercial Properties of Solon.

Meanwhile, iHeartMedia just moved its operations for nine local radio stations, including news station WTAM, to 668 Euclid Ave. downtown after 20 years of operations in Independence in a multi-tenant office building. K&D owns the 668 Euclid office, retail and apartment building as well as Reserve Square.

On the other hand, such a central home would make stations more accessible in vast northeast Ohio. This would especially be the case for mobile TV news crews that use the slogan “First. Fair. Everywhere”.

The potential TV moves surfaced seven months after Gray acquired WOIO, WUAB and WTCL-related properties by buying 17 stations from Meredith Local Group in a deal valued at $2.7 billion.

Gray then named Matt Moran his Cleveland general manager. He held a position similar to Gray’s offerings serving Charleston-Huntington, West Virginia.

Gray serves 113 television markets, reaching approximately 36% of the US household television market. Gray also owns Raycom Sports, Tupelo Media Group and PowerNation Studios along with two studio production facilities.

Moran, whose name appears on the Independence Conditional Use Certificate Application, declined to comment.

Independence Mayor Gregory P. Kurtz, through a spokesperson, also declined to comment.

While the request with the suburb is for Gray, she doesn’t specifically identify stations that might be involved in a move.

On the section of the city’s request for the name of the project/building, it uses a code name. Such a term is typical of corporate real estate businesses that are in the nebulous and changing planning stage.

Its code name is “Project VOSOT”.

VOSOT is a commonly accepted television journalism term for “voice-over/sound on tape,” a relic of broadcasting from the days before media went digital.


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