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Possible Washington Post move spurs rumors, pleas, invitations

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder,The Washington Post

The Washington Post is considering moving from its 15th Street headquarters and other properties in downtown D.C., an announcement that quickly stirred speculation about the venerable newspaper's future in the District.

"We are actively exploring relocating our headquarters," said Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth. "Our preliminary analysis suggests that a move will make good operational and economic sense, however we have not yet decided on where or when.

But Weymouth's statement did nothing to prevent rumors, pleas for the newspaper to remain in D.C. and invitations for it to exit the city.

Post journalists said publicly they wouldn't be surprised if the operation left Washington, and a newspaper spokeswoman didn't respond to questions about a potential move.

D.C. Councilman Jack Evans, whose ward includes the Post's properties with an assessed value of about $80 million, declared that he would do whatever it took to keep the newspaper.

Evans acknowledged that "it's obviously cheaper to be outside the city," but he warned of the optics of a Post move to Virginia.

"The Washington Post located in suburban Virginia would not be a good message for them," he said.

And Mayor Vincent Gray's spokesman said =Weymouth had called Gray to inform him of the possible sale and to seek the city's assistance.

"We look forward to working with them to find a new home in the District," said Pedro Ribeiro, who declined to discuss the steps the municipal government might take to keep the Post in Washington.

Virginia officials have other ideas.

"How about moving to VA where your largest subscription base lives?" U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly posted on Twitter.

A spokesman later noted that the congressman "has always sought opportunities to encourage businesses, large and small, to locate in Northern Virginia."SClBWeymouth's announcement signaled the end may be near for a complex -- once jokingly described by a New York Times reporter as a "nondescript Soviet-style building" -- that soared to prominence when a replica of the newsroom was used in the 1976 Watergate film "All the President's Men."SClBBut the news was also the latest chapter of a more wide-reaching saga that has seen the publication pivot from its days of thick papers and a crowded newsroom to an era of a shrunken staff and thinned news sections.

Like most newspapers, the Post has struggled to maintain its circulation and keep advertising revenues flowing. In the third quarter of last year, the newspaper division recorded a $22 million loss.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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