Northampton hotel owner poised to acquire Gazette headquarters

  • The building at 115 Conz St. in Northampton has been home to the Daily Hampshire Gazette since October 1975.  GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 4/8/2022 7:00:40 PM

NORTHAMPTON — A prominent businessman who owns two city hotels has reached a tentative deal to buy the Daily Hampshire Gazette’s headquarters at 115 Conz St., though there are no imminent plans for redeveloping the site.

Mansour Ghalibaf, who operates the Fairfield Inn at 115A Conz St. and the Hotel Northampton at 36 King St., has reached a purchase-and-sale agreement to buy the property, Gazette Publisher Shawn Palmer announced Friday. The Gazette has been located at the Conz Street property since October 1975.

Ghalibaf, who declined to say how much he will pay for the site, said in a phone interview that no specific development is yet planned.

“Everything is on the table, from leasing the existing building to basically demolishing and developing something nice,” Ghalibaf said.

Palmer said Mansour is a respected leader in the community and is a worthy steward of the Gazette’s property. “However he redevelops the site, it will be something all of Northampton will be proud of,” Palmer said.

The sale of the 45,000-square-foot building, on 3.57 acres of land, likely means a move for the Gazette. With 38 employees focused primarily on newsgathering and sales, with some finance and administration related to sister publications the Greenfield Recorder, Amherst Bulletin, Valley Advocate and Athol Daily News that are also owned by Newspapers of New England, Palmer said the Gazette is no longer using about two-thirds of the building space.

“It’s an exciting time for the company to get a new start in a fresh space, an updated space,” Palmer said, adding that a new location will provide a more modern setup that meets the needs of a 21st-century media company.

Palmer said the sale also allows the Gazette to shed the costs associated with owning a building. The hope is to find a new site to rent in Northampton.

The building was put on the market for $4.2 million by Goggins Real Estate in July 2020. The price matched both the building’s appraised and assessed value.

Ghalibaf declined to discuss the terms of the purchase-and-sale agreement but noted that he has 45 days to complete due diligence and then another month or so to finalize the deal.

When he purchased a piece of the Gazette’s land for the Fairfield Inn in 2012, Ghalibaf said he sought a right of first refusal for the remaining property, and before the pandemic he began thinking about what he could do with the site in the future.

For Ghalibaf, the property, which he might carve up and lease out, is also critical for the city, which he said remains a popular regional destination.

“I can confidently say it is going to improve the gateway to the city,” Ghalibaf said. “It will be something I can be proud of.”

Originally opened as a First National Supermarket, the building was later used as storage for Pro Brush, before the Gazette moved to the location from 16 Armory St., where the newspaper had been since 1927.

When the building was put up for sale, the Gazette’s previous publisher, Michael Moses, explained that downsizing was the right move, with printing and distributing both moving off site, while publishing continued in Northampton, as it had since the Gazette was founded in 1786.

Since the Gazette took over the property, the building has had several additions. In 1988, about 36% more workspace for editorial, advertising and composing staffs was added, including new offices at the south end of the building.

In 2000, a 6,000-square-foot addition created a second receiving dock for pre-printed advertisements and more room for distribution to accommodate an 80-foot-long automatic, pre-print inserting machine and three loading conveyors to take newspaper bundles directly to delivery cars and trucks.

The last expansion came in 2007. That was for the addition of a Cerutti S-4 flexographic press that operated from August 2008 until July 2020.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at
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