The historic CNN Center in downtown Atlanta that has served as the global headquarters for the 24-hour news network for decades is up for sale, WarnerMedia announced Monday.
WarnerMedia chief financial officer Pascal Desroches informed employees of the news in an email titled "CNN Center - Property Update."
"Now that we've had time to further evaluate, we've concluded that the best course of action is to sell the CNN Center," Desroches said. "Downtown Atlanta has seen great investment and is quickly becoming an an entertainment destination. The CNN Center is of great value to a third party that specializes in such developments."
The CNN newsroom served as a hub of activity and a pulse on the world, fulfilling Ted Turner's vision of creating a dynamic news center in the city he loved.
When the not guilty verdict was announced in the trial of O.J. Simpson on Oct. 3, 1995, the crowded fifth-floor newsroom drew to a hush.
On 9/11 the newsroom overflowed with executives and rank-and-file journalists bringing in video feeds of the smoldering twin towers, while reporters stayed in touch with bureaus worldwide and contacted world leaders.
As the news network grew its digital enterprise, CNN Center became home to the largest digital newsroom in the world, with more than 100 CNN.com journalists working in a space that once housed a movie theater and a Chinese restaurant. The digital newsroom was so state-of-the-art it had the first 24-hour live streaming news network.
Sucks to hear about the CNN Center being up for sale. The thing that always set CNN apart was that it was not DC-NYC based. But it has becoming increasingly so and CNN-ATL no longer really makes a lot of sense for most things. I wish the network would go back to its roots though
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) June 29, 2020
"Feels like a death in the family. Very sad," said Amanda Lynn Barnett, a former producer of the CNN Digital home page. "I spent more time there than at my home for the past 20 years. I am shocked."
Ed Payne, a stalwart of CNN's overnight shift who worked for the company for 23 years, said he wasn't surprised because so much of the production operation had moved to New York over the last decade.
"There was always the feeling that the leadership in NYC was looking down its nose at Atlanta, that it wasn't as sexy as the Big Apple," Payne said.
CNN's Gabe Ramirez pointed out the ugly architectural design of the concrete "behemoth."
"I've never been a fan of that fortress style of architecture," he said.
In announcing the building going on the real estate market, Desroches said the company planned "to centralize most of our employees on the Techwood campus" in Midtown Atlanta once the sale completes.
"This move in no way should suggest that WarnerMedia is less committed to Atlanta," he said. "This process will take several years, so we don’t expect any immediate changes for employees working at the CNN Center."
Desroches went on to give a nod to CNN's founder, saying, "Ted Turner was a true pioneer who reinvented media when he launched the 24-hour news channel in 1980."
CNN recently celebrated its 40th reunion. It also became the focal point of protests in recent weeks, with rioters smashing windows and spray-painting the CNN sign out front.
News of CNN Center hitting the real estate market came on the same day the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the multibillion-dollar Gulch development could move forward. The Gulch is a vacant stretch of land across the street from CNN Center.
The state's highest court upheld a trial court’s ruling that bonds issued by the city’s Downtown Development Authority were “sound, feasible, and reasonable.” In its decision, the court rejected arguments from four residents who filed multiple objections to the issuance of the bonds.
A development group has proposed a $5 billion mix of hotels, offices, apartments and retail space for the Gulch.