Aborted sale of Daily Camera building speaks volumes about Boulder economy

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This past weekend, my family and I took a stroll in one of my favorite places, the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder -- and while the sidewalks were crowded, I saw unmistakable proof that the area isn't immune from the economic downturn. For the first time that I recall, a gaggle of parents and kids weren't lined up in front of Bongo, the balloon man who holds down the sidewalk in front of the Peppercorn store. Instead of making rubbery works of art, he was giving someone directions.

I wasn't surprised, then, by today's Boulder Daily Camera story about the decision by developer Randy Nichols to withdraw from negotiations to purchase the paper's Pearl Street building. And neither was it shocking to read that instead of immediately replanting the for-sale sign, Camera publisher Al Manzi may wait to peddle the plant for "a couple of years." The structure's location is great, but the same can be said of the space long occupied by Tom's Tavern, a restaurant across the street from the Daily Camera's headquarters. The joint shut down shortly after the May 2007 death of its owner, Tom Eldridge -- and even though the economy was in considerably better shape back then, a buyer for the property -- Stephen Tebo -- didn't pop up until last August. In May, the Camera made the launch of a new eatery in the Tavern's spot a featured item in a piece about exciting changes on the way for downtown Boulder. But the place seemed a long way from opening when I strolled past it on Sunday en route to Bart's CD Cellar.

With this example in mind, Manzi's smart not to slash his asking price in order to move the Camera building. But given the state of the journalism business in general, the question arises: How long can he afford to wait?

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