Signage that long announced The Baltimore Sun’s presence near the city’s downtown core — reading “THE SUN” in massive letters visible from the Jones Falls Expressway — came down Thursday from atop the newspaper’s former headquarters on Calvert Street, bound for storage.
When Tribune Co. spun off its newspapers in 2014 and became the Tribune Media television company, it retained much of the newspapers’ real estate and began selling it off. Atapco Properties acquired the Sun building in May 2017.
The Sun moved out of the building last week, with its journalists, advertising professionals and other business staff moving into new offices within the company’s printing plant in Port Covington.
“The signage belongs to The Baltimore Sun,” said Renee Mutchnik, a spokeswoman for The Baltimore Sun Media Group, in a statement. “Because we are planning new signage for our Port Covington site, we will be keeping the Calvert Street signage in storage.”
Mutchnik said The Sun was required to remove the signage under the terms of its lease.
Atapco Properties President Kevin McAndrews said Thursday that his company had been “interested in the history of the building and the connection The Sun had to the building” — and in the potential of maintaining that connection in a visible way at the property.
However, he said, the Baltimore Sun Media Group took a different position last year after an early rendering of what the building might look like after it is redeveloped was published — including by The Sun — showing signage on the side of the building that read, “THE SUN BUILDING.”
McAndrews said his company was contacted soon after by attorneys for the newspaper who said Atapco could not use the newspaper’s trademark.
There are “no hard feelings,” he added. “We wish The Sun well as they move on to their new home, still representing the city.”
As for what’s next for The Sun’s former Calvert Street headquarters, McAndrews said it is “incredibly complicated.”
“We’ve got lots of ideas and lots of things that we’re still evaluating, and it’s just taking a little longer for us to fixate and decide exactly how we want to tackle it,” he said. “There’s design and marketing and a lot of different angles that we’re still trying to nail down.”
The issue of a newspaper’s signage remaining or not remaining on a former headquarters building came up earlier this year in Chicago, when the Chicago Tribune — a sister paper to the Sun — advised the buyers of that paper’s namesake tower that the paper would be taking its iconic signage with it.
The new owner of the tower, a joint venture between Los Angeles-based CIM Group and Chicago’s Golub & Co., sued the paper in response, arguing it had the right to buy the sign for $1 and keep it displayed on the tower.
The two parties reached an agreement Aug. 3, under which the Chicago Tribune sign will remain on the tower’s exterior.