Editor's note: The owners of the Eagle's new building were incorrect in an earlier version of this story.
The Wichita Eagle on Tuesday agreed to a deal for a new headquarters in Old Town Square, and it’s a move that president and publisher Roy Heatherly said will showcase the company’s digital future.
“It is a tremendous location looking out over the Old Town Square,” he said. “It’ll be right in the heart of Old Town, so it’ll have a lot of traffic that people will see.”
There will be digital screens on the front of the building that project The Eagle’s website, Kansas.com, and up-to-the minute news.
“The public will begin to understand that we’re now a digital company versus a print company and more multimedia than anything,” Heatherly said.
Currently, The Eagle is at 825 E. Douglas, which the company sold to developers Dave Burk, Dave Wells and Brandon Steven last year after it moved its printing operations to Kansas City, Mo. The developers are going to build a new headquarters for Cargill after The Eagle moves this spring.
Dave Wells, Dave Burk, Bill Warren and Steve Barrett own the space where The Eagle is moving, 330 N. Mead, in the same building as CityArts.
“Since we’ve made the move to Kansas City to print, there’s still this misconception that we’ve moved our entire operation up there,” Heatherly said.
In addition to being “really a fun building,” he said, the new space will “reinforce in people’s minds that we are here.”
The Eagle has operated out of several buildings since it was founded in 1872. It moved to its current address in the early 1960s after purchasing The Wichita Beacon.
Heatherly said the new space already is modern and will be further updated to meet The Eagle’s needs. That contrasts with The Eagle’s current headquarters.
“Unfortunately, there’s not been a lot of investment in this building,” he said of the current site. “You walk in and you sense the image of just print. You don’t sense any technology there.
“Print is still a very important piece to what we do. … The future for us is digital, and so this will project that image, too. It will actually give us the best of both worlds, in my opinion.”
The more than 24,000-square-foot Old Town Square space most recently was occupied by Associated Integrated Marketing and Oeno Wine Bar.
Oeno closed last month, and Associated moved to the former Oasis Staffing space just east of Old Chicago along Second Street.
Burk said The Eagle’s space will provide “a lot more interaction” with the public.
“People will know where you are,” he said.
In addition to being a good move for The Eagle, Burk said, the company’s approximately 100 employees are “going to really help that area considerably.”
He and Heatherly said the square’s restaurants, retail and Warren Theatre are great amenities for employees, too.
The new space will be drastically different from The Eagle’s spacious three-story, 174,000-square-foot building. Heatherly said there will be a tighter feel, though there’s actually room to grow.
He said he’s still looking for a second building for a distribution center.
“That is not nearly as difficult as what this was in terms of finding the actual space and location,” he said.
Initially, The Eagle had looked at moving to the former Henry’s department store space at Broadway and William, which the same developers own. But Heatherly said the move didn’t make as much sense financially.
“I was very excited about Henry’s,” he said. “I’m more excited about this.”
Burk said the new space will be ready in April. Heatherly said he hopes to move the new distribution center at the same time.
The new building will be a two-story, open concept with lots of windows.
Heatherly said there will be a lot of collaboration spaces for employees and a 30-person meeting area overlooking the square that can be used for small events.
“Again,” Heatherly said, “it will reinforce in this community that we are part of this community by investing in a location in downtown that … I think not only our employees will be proud of, but that I think the community will be proud of.”