Skip to comments.Columbian newspaper faces foreclosure, Sheriff's sale of existing building.
Posted on 04/08/2009 7:06:58 AM PDT by Bean Counter
Bank of America has sued The Columbian Publishing Co., the parent company of Vancouver's daily newspaper, to recover $15.4 million in unpaid debts and interest. The bank also seeks to foreclose on the newspaper's current headquarters through a sheriff's sale.
The bank's suit, filed Monday in Clark County Superior Court, says The Columbian Publishing Co. has defaulted on $14.5 million it borrowed for working capital between 2006 and 2007. The company owes $498,419 more under a separate agreement tied to interest rate changes, according to the suit and bank spokeswoman Shirley Norton.
As part of a 2006 loan, The Columbian Publishing Co. pledged its offices at 701 W. Eighth St. as collateral. Bank of America wants to foreclose on the property and sell it to pay down the company's debts.
Scott Campbell, the paper's third-generation publisher, did not return phone calls or an e-mail Tuesday seeking comment.
Norton, the bank spokeswoman, said The Columbian Publishing Co. defaulted on its loans in October and the bank has been in negotiations with the company since then.
"Bank of America tries to work with its clients to help resolve financial issues, as we have in this case, including giving the customer more time to resolve outstanding debt," Norton said in an e-mail.
In a story in The Columbian, Campbell was quoted as saying: "This isn't unexpected and The Columbian has been fully prepared for this. We have been a tough, determined and strong business for as long as we've been around and we fully expect to emerge from these exceptionally difficult economic times in a strong position."
The Columbian faces the same problems as most U.S. newspapers, including The Oregonian: declining readership and ad sales amid rising Internet use and a historic recession. The Columbian has the added obligation to make debt payments as ad sales fall in the industry.
Al Kennedy, a Portland bankruptcy lawyer working for The Columbian, said some of the loans went to help pay for The Columbian's new offices bordering Esther Short Park at 415 W. Sixth St.
Campbell created a separate company, Downtown Vitality Partners, to build the six-story, $35 million building.
Construction started in 2006, and the newspaper moved into four floors of the building in January 2008. It was part of a wave of projects that city officials hoped would revive downtown. But as the economy worsened, the paper moved back to its old offices on West Eighth Street in December, according to The Columbian's story.
It's not clear yet what the foreclosure and potential sheriff's sale on the Clark County courthouse means for the future of Vancouver's daily newspaper.
"We are still in discussions with Bank of America," Kennedy said.
Ryan Frank: 503-221-8519; firstname.lastname@example.org
So far they have made it sound like the construction of their new building was the problem facing them, but in fact the problems go much deeper than that, and both thier new and old buildings are now in jeopardy...
Let's see if this Sheriff's sale really happens, and what ultimately comes out of all this....Washington and Oregon *ping*...
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It almost ain’t news any more is it?