MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Moving trucks were parked along the walk in front of One Herald Plaza Thursday, as The Miami Herald passed its last day in the building it has known as home for half a decade. It was moving day.
The Herald’s corporate parent, the McClatchy Co., sold its 13.9-acre bayside downtown Miami Herald property on May 27, 2011, for $236 million to the Genting Group which had plans for a $3.8 billion destination resort with a casino. Mounting opposition forced the company to scale back those plans. Phase one of the project will now focus on a luxury hotel and two condominiums.
Herald photographer Al Diaz was loading gear into a U-Haul truck as the last of the staff left in what has been a weeks-long shift to the new digs in the suburbs.
“I spent thirty years in this place, more than half my lifetime. So, it’s bitter sweet,” Diaz said.
“Write, email, pack. Phone call, write, pack. Pack, pack, pack. #movingday #Farewell1HP,” tweeted staffer Hannah Sampson.
The Miami Herald Media Company has moved its headquarters to offices in Doral that used to house the U.S. Southern Command. The new location at 3511 NW 91st Ave. encompasses 15 acres in the Westpoint Business Park in Doral. The Herald publishes CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald, news websites MiamiHerald.com and ElNuevoHerald.com and specialty magazines.
The new facility is state of the art.
“Quite frankly it’s been a struggle in this location, because this building is dated,” said Interactive Editor Nancy San Martin.
Day Editor Jeff Kleinman said the newspaper’s reporters, photographers and other employees are what make the publication special.
“Those are the people that reported the news,” Kleinman said. “The building has been thee along with it, but it’s not the most important thing.”
Oh so carefully, employees on Thursday removed the etched glass Pulitzer prizes that adorned the walls of the old newsroom. The paper has won 20 Pulitzers, exposing wrongdoing, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
The Herald building has served as the set for several major motion pictures. Paul Newman and Sally Field acted in the city room in the film, “Absence of Malice.” Kurt Russell jumped across Herald news desks in the movie, “The Mean Season,” and Sean Connery used the building as a prop in “Just Cause.”
There have been infamous moments in and around the building.
Miami City Commissioner Arthur Teele killed himself with a gunshot to the head in The Herald’s lobby.
A madman chewed off the face of another man on the sidewalk by the building.
Criminal trials beat writer David Ovalle carried all his reporterly possessions in a bag as he left the building for the last time on Thursday. He didn’t look back.
“There’s still going to be crime, there’s still going to be murder trials and mayhem in Miami,” Ovalle said. “Life goes on, and we’re still going to be there to cover it.”
Still, photographs shot by photographer Carl Juste illustrated no small amount of melancholy in the building Thursday: Executive Editor Mindy Marques Gonzalez, alone in her office, all the drawers in her desk and credenza open and empty; Reporter Audra Burch propped her chin on her hands and watched sadly as the Pulitzer prizes were being hauled away; a shot of the last editorial meeting in the building, featuring a mixture of smiles and tears.
Prodded by a CBS4 reporter, Obituary writer Elinor Brecher scratched out an obit for the building on a legal pad.
“One Herald Plaza…passed into history on Thursday after succumbing to a real estate deal,” Brecher wrote. “She will be greatly missed.”
“She really will be,” Brecher said, her eyes misting ever so slightly.