BLOOMINGTON — The Pantagraph is moving, but will remain in downtown Bloomington.
The newspaper offices are moving to 205 N. Main St., on the old courthouse square, across from the McLean County Museum of History. After the move is completed by early spring, the building will be renamed for the newspaper.
The Pantagraph will have offices on the first and second floors. Heartland Bank is located at the south end of the first floor, and other tenants are on the third floor. The building is owned by 121 North Main LLC.
“This has been a long process and we’ve looked at many, many Twin City locations in the past two years,” said Pantagraph Publisher Julie Bechtel. “We feel fortunate to have found a new home that will allow us to remain in downtown Bloomington.
“We’re also proud to be part of the ongoing efforts to revitalize the city’s core,” she added.
The Pantagraph has a long-term lease for a total of about 14,000 square feet. Bechtel said the space will be “freshened up” with new paint, carpeting and other improvements to “make it our own.”
"We're very excited about The Pantagraph being able to stay downtown," said building manager Vicki Varney. "I think it's a good fit. Being on the courthouse square is a perfect place for The Pantagraph."
The Pantagraph is one of the oldest businesses operating in McLean County and traces its roots to a newspaper founded in 1837 by Jesse Fell. The Pantagraph, its website and the Woodford County Journal are owned by Lee Enterprises of Davenport, Iowa.
"The Pantagraph is almost as old as the county itself, so what better business to see locate in the heart of our historic district," said Beth Whisman, the museum's executive director.
"Newspapers are the public record for communities and so are history museums," she added. "So it is actually kind of cool that we're sharing the same neighborhood now even a little bit closer than before," she added.
For The Pantagraph to make a commitment to stay downtown "is in many ways acknowledging the downtown and all of the activities that are happening here is the heart of community," said Whisman. "This is where government is. This is where business is thriving. This is where culture is alive. So you want to be close to where the action is, and that's still downtown Bloomington."
Whisman also noted that The Pantagraph will be located on the historic Route 66.
"I am just really thrilled that The Pantagraph is staying right where it belongs in our city center," said Tricia Stiller, the city's downtown development division manager and former executive director of the Downtown Bloomington Association. "It would not have been the same downtown without The Pantagraph there. It's an institution and a very valued member of the downtown community."
Ruth Haney, president of the DBA's board of directors, agreed.
"It's so good to hear The Pantagraph is going to stay in Bloomingon," she said. "I would hate to see it move anywhere else. It's a mainstay."
Bechtel acknowledged it will be hard to leave the current building at 301 W. Washington St. — two blocks west of the new location — which has been the newspaper’s home since 1935. The building was sold in August 2016 to St. Louis-based Oak LLC/Raven Development.
“This building has served us well for decades and we will miss it, but we know the new owners will update it and ensure it remains a key part of downtown,” Bechtel said.
The development company came forward after previous plans involving Twin City developer David Bentley did not materialize.