Plans for the New Haven Register to move to a more central downtown location have lost momentum in recent weeks.
Though the Register was looking to move to a downtown location at 900 Chapel St., which was formerly a mall located near the New Haven Green, negotiations for this move have fallen through due to parking and cost concerns, said Dave Hansen, an associate in CB Richard Ellis Brokerage Group, which has been working with the Register during its move.
“The location has been vetted and precluded,” Hansen said.
He explained that the Register requires twice as much parking as a regular office space needs, something this location was not able to deliver.
Financial limitations posed another hindering factor. The Register is looking to minimize the cost of the move, since the current advertising climate has resulted in cutbacks in advertising revenue, said Matthew Nemerson SOM ’81, New Haven’s economic development administrator.
Nemerson has been involved in the discussions regarding the downtown move since January.
“Their desire is to keep overhead low and put as much money as possible into producing a great paper,” Nemerson said.
Internal decisions may also be impeding the move. New managing strategies are aimed at keeping the whole staff together, instead of moving the editorial staff downtown as had previously been planned, said Paul Bass ’82, editor of the New Haven Independent, an online news source.
Downtown moves are fairly popular decisions for newspapers, said Dan Kennedy, professor of journalism at Northeastern University and author of “The Wired City,” a book that prominently features the New Haven Register. A location in the center of the city provides the paper with a visible presence in citizens’ lives and access to the busiest part of the city.
“Being in the suburbs, you’re certainly not going to have your finger on the pulse of city life,” said John Stoehr, managing editor of the Washington Spectator and fellow at the Yale Journalism Initiative. “Especially in New Haven, where you have City Hall and the federal courts — the municipal lifeblood is downtown.”
Plans for the move downtown are close to being permanently cancelled, Hansen said, but the Register’s current headquarters in Long Wharf have already been leased to Jordan’s Furniture, so it must find a new location before it is forced to leave its current building. The Register’s administration is looking at other properties in downtown and greater New Haven in the hopes that that it can keep its offices within the city, Hansen said.
Despite Nemerson’s efforts on behalf of the municipal government to keep the paper downtown, government representatives are limited in negotiations since it would be controversial if they provided any extra assistance to the Register, Bass said. Nemerson echoed this concern, and said that the city would not provide an unfair advantage to any newspaper.
However, meetings are still continuing, Nemerson said, citing the influx of journalists and support staff as an added economic benefit for the downtown area. Additionally, he said, journalism benefits the community.
“There’s no better thing for a community than to know that a group of smart people are writing about what’s going on and editorializing,” Nemerson said. “No matter how slim that newspaper is, it is better to have.”
Editors at the New Haven Register declined to comment.
The New Haven Register was founded in 1812.