After the better part of seven decades on the 1300 block of H Street, The Modesto Bee is moving – though not far.
By late summer, the company expects to be working out of the City Center Professional Offices building at 11th and J streets. “Although The Bee has enjoyed its iconic home on H Street since 1951, we are thrilled to be remaining downtown and moving the Bee staff to 948 11th St.,” President and Publisher Ken Riddick said Tuesday.
“I think it’s essential we stay downtown and I’m absolutely thrilled we’re going to be here, continuing to be in the hub of business, government and law,” said Bee Editor Joseph Kieta. “... I see great things on the horizon for downtown Modesto and am happy we get to be part of it.”
The Bee’s longtime home – the entire city block bounded by 13th, 14th, H and I streets – was built by The McClatchy Co., remodeled in 1988 and sold in 2011. Since then, McClatchy has leased roughly a quarter of it for The Modesto Bee offices and newsroom. Late last year, the Stanislaus County Board of Education approved purchasing the property for used by the county Office of Education.
The new location is even closer in to the hub of downtown, right next to government buildings, a short walk to the courthouse and the Gallo Center, and surrounded by restaurants and entertainment.
Our broad journalism and community service missions remain the same but the platforms to produce local journalism have changed dramatically. This exciting new space will be more conducive to our digitally focused media company.
Ken Riddick, Modesto Bee president and publisher
The search for a new home ultimately led to the City Center building, Riddick said. All departments in the 1325 H St. building – editorial, advertising, administrative – will move to the new address, he said. Renovations are under way and progressing quickly, he said, and Bee customers should enjoy the facility as much as Bee employees. “The renovations are going to be fantastic, and we will have a much better, forward-facing presence for our customers.”
City parking is readily available, and an elevator will take visitors directly to The Bee’s third-floor lobby. Those doing business by phone should know that no contact numbers will change.
The City Center building previously was named City Mall. It for decades was home to the J.C Penney department store before it moved to Vintage Faire when that mall opened.
The new newsroom will hopefully be a showpiece for the future of our business and the kind of workspace that any news organization would want in 2017 and beyond – modern and adaptable to our future needs.
Joseph Kieta, Modesto Bee editor
The building at 11th and J cost its initial investors $1 million to open in 1948, according to historian Colleen Stanley Bare’s book “Modesto Then and Now.”
But in 2011, Michael A. deRuosi of Modesto, then managing partner for City Mall LP, told The Bee something most people didn’t know: legendary comic actor Groucho Marx, two of his brothers and his lawyer were the building’s original owners, and they leased it to Penney’s for 30 years.
Those initial owners couldn’t have imagined what the building will look like when The Bee moves in. “We will be taking the entire third floor of the City Center building,” Riddick said, “and will be creating the space from the floor up to meet our emerging needs.”
Kieta added that he’s excited for what the new building will mean to the newsroom. “So much of what we do today is focused on our digital products, and our new newsroom will be a state-of-the-art digital newsroom much more conducive to producing real-time news than the current newsroom,” he said. “I’m also excited for our staff because this will put us in a place that will energize us. ... We need to move in a new direction, and this will take us there.”
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327