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Mayor: City Acquiring Daily News Building, Plans Digital Media Center

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
November 01, 2017
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

The city of McKeesport is acquiring the former Daily News building and is exploring the creation of a digital media center there, in cooperation with Point Park University, Mayor Mike Cherepko said Wednesday.

Cherepko told city council that officials are close to a deal with the parent company of the Tribune-Review and TribLive.com to purchase the building for what he described as "an unbelievably good price."

Details are expected within a few weeks, he said. "The Trib has truly been working with us to make this a reality," Cherepko said.

There are hopes that part of the building will be used by students in Point Park's Center for Media Innovation, which was launched in 2015 with help from a $2.5 million grant from the Allegheny Foundation. The foundation was created by the late Richard Mellon Scaife, publisher of the Tribune-Review.

"We've got a lot of ideas at this point, but to be honest with you, we don't want to close any windows of opportunity," Cherepko said in an interview Wednesday night.

Former Tribune-Review investigative reporter Andrew Conte serves as director of the Center for Media Innovation, which provides Point Park University's communications and journalism students with hands-on experience in video, audio, Internet and multimedia production.

"Point Park is very interested in the city of McKeesport," Cherepko said. The university's level and type of student involvement at the Daily News Building has yet to be determined, he said.

"I do think they have some vision down the road of what that could be," Cherepko said.

It is the second active university partnership being pursued by city officials.

Last month, Jacqueline Edmondson, chancellor of Penn State Greater Allegheny, told Tube City Almanac in an interview that the campus and McKeesport were planning to offer housing counseling, workforce development and other programs in the former YWCA building on Ninth Avenue.

The former YWCA was purchased by the city this summer for $1. City council on Wednesday voted by 7-0 to transfer ownership of the building to McKeesport's Redevelopment Authority.

Besides Penn State, the Ninth Street Clinic and PurePenn have offices in the former YWCA.

State Sen. Jim Brewster of McKeesport has been instrumental in the city's negotiations for the Daily News Building, Cherepko said.

Brewster, a Democrat, and Scaife, an ardent conservative, became unlikely friends in the last years of the publisher's life.

The city's goal is to operate both the former YWCA building and the Daily News Building at no cost to taxpayers, Cherepko said, by pursuing grant funding to offset operating expenses and finding tenants who can pay rent.

Both buildings are in excellent condition, Cherepko said.

"Ideally, we would like both buildings to become profitable, but initially, that's not the point," he said.

The city hopes that Tube City Community Media Inc., publisher of Tube City Online and operator of Internet radio station WMCK.FM, will relocate to the Daily News Building, Cherepko said.

The radio station currently operates out of rented quarters at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Walnut Street, Downtown.

McKeesport officials also are in discussion with the owners of the Monessen-based Mon Valley Independent about having a presence in the Daily News Building, Cherepko said.

The Daily News' printing presses and related equipment have been sold and were removed.

In addition, the city has asked McKeesport Regional History & Heritage Center to help conserve historic artifacts, including the archives of the newspaper, which published its final edition Dec. 31, 2015, Cherepko said.

A historic display of Daily News and McKeesport memorabilia inside the building also is possible, he said.

"We think this provide a tremendous benefit to the city, and could become an asset for a long, long time," Cherepko said.

Founded in 1884, the Daily News moved to the corner of Lysle Boulevard and Walnut Street in the 1930s with the erection of a three-story office and printing plant in the Art Deco style.

In the 1950s, the building was expanded to its present size with construction of a two-story addition next to the P&LE railroad tracks, built to match the existing building.

According to Allegheny County property tax records, the building comprises 12,000 square feet and has a current fair market value of $310,000.

It was purchased by the Tribune-Review's parent company in 2007 for $450,000, tax records indicate, when it acquired the Daily News from the owners of the Latrobe Bulletin.

The Latrobe paper, in turn, had purchased the Daily News in 2004 from the Mansfield family, which had owned the newspaper since 1925.

Cherepko said the city intends to preserve the architectural features of the building, including the lighted sign with the former newspaper's name that still decorates the Walnut and Lysle corner.

Originally published November 01, 2017.

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