After more than 30 years of housing community newspapers, the former Columbia Flier building is for sale.
Karen Cherry, a real estate agent with the Baltimore offices of Cushman & Wakefield, which is handling the sale, said the building has been on the market for a little more than a month. Though several people have inquired about and visited the property, she said, there have been no offers.
Cherry said there is no specific asking price on the 2.16-acre property, located at 10750 Little Patuxent Parkway next to Princeton Sports. But according to Maryland property records, the parcel was assessed at $2.77 million as of July 1.
"It's a great building," Cherry said. "Everyone knows the building; in Columbia, you say 'The Flier building' and everyone knows where it is and what it is. It's a great location, too, favorable for all types of uses. I think there's a general curiosity about the building, as well."
The building, which housed the Columbia Flier and its parent company, Patuxent Publishing, until 2011, opened in 1978 after two years of planning and construction. The Baltimore Sun Co. which is now owned by Tribune Co., purchased Patuxent and the Flier building in 1997.The building has been vacant since February 2011, when the Columbia Flier and its sister publication, the Howard County Times, moved to a suite of offices on Sterrett Place, in Columbia.
Earlier this week, Columbia architect Bob Moon, husband of the newspaper's then-managing editor Jean Moon, said he designed the iconic building with a vision of youth.
"Zeke (Orlinsky, former owner of Patuxent) wanted something to reflect the youth and vitality of the organization," Bob Moon said.
"We were all kids back then. I was 32 years old, and this was my first building on my own as a registered architect. The youth and vitality aspect had me looking at new materials for the building. ... I designed a building perfectly tailored for a newspaper."
At the time, the building was the only paneled building in Columbia, Jean Moon said, and its contemporary style — porcelain-glazed steel panels lining two faces of the buildings, and large, tempered-glass windows — made it distinct. There are nine levels within the 30,000 square-foot building, with a large lobby designed to a be "the drama, the stopping point," said Jean Moon, who runs a marketing and public relations firm.
Now, the building is for sale at a time of dramatic change in Columbia's history. While the property is not included in the Downtown Columbia General Plan, a road map for the about-to-begin redevelopment of downtown Columbia, Cherry said it's "close enough that it could certainly benefit from the master plan."
Speculation about the building's future abounds, the Moons said, including the possibility that either Howard Community College or the Columbia Association might buy it. However, Nancy Gainer, spokeswoman for HCC, said the college has no plans to buy the property. Phil Nelson, CA president, also said CA has no plans to buy the property, as the board "wants us to stay closer to downtown."
"It's a building that has served its purpose, and it did it in a big way," Bob Moon said. "But the building was built for an age and time."
Added Jean Moon: "It was a very distinctive building. It's still a distinctive building."