THE COLUMBIAN EMERGES FROM CHAPTER 11 BANKRUPTCY IN VANCOUVER

Debt Settlement and Bankruptcy Lawyer in Charlotte, NC The Columbian emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Vancouver. Latest international and local business, finance and economy news Advertising, Best of Business, Breaking News, Business.

Debt Settlement and Bankruptcy Lawyer in Charlotte, NC

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The Columbian emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Vancouver

On Friday, a judge approved a reorganization plan for The Columbian, allowing the 120-year-old Vancouver newspaper to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy after nine months of negotiations with its creditors.

The signature of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul Snyder — and the transfer of the deed to its six-story office building — puts the newspaper on firmer financial footing after two years of bulging debt, hemorrhaging revenue and shrinking staff.

We’re delighted over here,” said Scott Campbell, owner and publisher. “People are really excited to have this chapter and this history behind us.”

The deed to The Columbian’s new six-story building at 415 W. Sixth St. was transferred to Bank of America, the newspaper’s last major creditor to approve the reorganization plan.

Campbell, as head of Downtown Vitality Partners, which owned the building, handed the deed over Thursday. He said Bank of America approved the reorganization effective the same day.

The Campbell family, which has owned The Columbian since 1921, built the new headquarters for financial and practical reasons.

“The Campbell family needed an asset diversification, and we needed more space,” Campbell said.

The newspaper’s staff moved into the steel structure, which earned a gold — or second highest — classification under the LEED environmental rating system in January 2008. The timing could not have been worse.

“That same month, the bottom fell out of the economy — and the newspaper industry,” Campbell said. “We immediately had downward revisions of revenue forecasts.”

In February, the company was hit with the first of three rounds of layoffs. By December, the company had lost 100 full- and part-time staff out of 360 overall.

“We had to part company with a lot of really good people,” Campbell said.

It also lost subscribers as have all newspapers nationwide.

In December, the paper moved out of the 130,000-square-foot steel structure and back into its former one-story headquarters at 701 W. Eighth St.

The building on Sixth Street, which was initially described as a $30 million project, went on the market for $41.5 million.

It’s yet to be sold.

The city of Vancouver had expressed interest in buying it. The city’s departments are spread out over several buildings, with Vancouver paying leases on most of them.

But any purchase of the Sixth Street building would hinge on the cost and benefits, Mayor Tim Leavitt said.

“We’re facing a $6 million shortfall this year,” he said. “There would have to be a thorough vetting of the financials for me and the City Council to support the purchase of any building. ”

NAI Norris, Beggs & Simpson has been handling the sale. No one at the company’s offices in Portland or Vancouver could be reached for comment Friday.

Although the future of the building is unclear, Campbell is optimistic about The Columbian’s future.

The staff stabilized last year to 237, with 55 in the newsroom, and subscriptions leveled off after dropping 18 percent since 2007. The Columbian now has about 35,000 daily subscribers and 40,000 on Sunday.

Ads are picking up, too.

“We’re profitable now,” Campbell said. “We are down to our core audience.”

And the reorganization is over — though no champagne corks were popped Friday. “We have too much work to do to have champagne at the moment,” he said.

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