WarnerMedia Puts Atlanta’s CNN Center on the Market

CNN Center-Atlanta-Getty-H 2018
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CNN and WarnerMedia employees currently based at CNN Center will move to other buildings operated by the company in the Atlanta area, including its Techwood campus (named after CNN and Turner founder Ted Turner) and Williams Street studio.

AT&T's WarnerMedia is looking to sell the CNN Center in Atlanta, the building that had served as the world headquarters of CNN for more than 25 years.

The company revealed the plans in a memo to employees Monday from WarnerMedia CFO Pascal Desroches.

WarnerMedia will be "consolidating our WarnerMedia Atlanta operations in our recently renovated and redesigned Techwood campus," according to a statement from the company. "As part of these changes we are selling the CNN Center, which is a retail center, well positioned in the downtown entertainment area of the city. Once sold, we will lease back the property for a minimum of five years. There will be no immediate impact to employees working at the CNN Center."

CNN moved into the CNN Center in 1987, with the building serving as the news channel's global headquarters until 2014, when the company moved much of CNN's editorial and on-air staff to New York and Washington D.C. as part of its "Turner 2020" reorganization.

CNN Center continued to serve as the headquarters of CNN International and HLN, and still houses much of the network's technical facilities. Nearly all CNN U.S. broadcasts now originate out of WarnerMedia’s headquarters at Hudson Yards in New York, or out of Washington D.C., though CNN Center remains a hub for the company, and a tourist attraction in the Atlanta area.

"This move in no way should suggest that WarnerMedia is less committed to Atlanta," Desroches writes in the memo. "Following the sale of the CNN Center, we plan to centralize most of our employees on the Techwood campus [named after CNN and Turner founder Ted Turner, and the original home of CNN]. This process will take several years, so we don’t expect any immediate changes for employees working at the CNN Center."

The move by WarnerMedia is the latest effort by AT&T to seek assets to monetize as it grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and takes measures to continue paying down its debt. The company is said to be putting its Warner Bros. Interactive gaming studio up for sale, has already sold its stake in the Game Show network and has sold off wireless and TV assets in Latin America and Europe.

WarnerMedia sold off its headquarters in Hudson Yards last year to the developer, Related Companies. The two companies signed a lease that will keep the entertainment giant in the space through at least 2034. It appears to be seeking a similar arrangement for CNN Center.

In the memo, Desroches says that Time Warner had been evaluating a sale of CNN Center since before AT&T's acquisition of the company.

Other companies have also sought to sell real estate holdings to maximize their liquidity. ViacomCBS sold off CBS Television City in Los Angeles, and is in the process of selling the Black Rock skyscraper in Manhattan.