The Free Lance-Star’s office in Central Park opened this week, with more than 150 employees reporting for work at the newspaper’s new home at 1340 Central Park Blvd.
“We are very excited to be in our new office,” said FLS Publisher Dale Lachniet. “Working with our partners, they have provided us state-of-the-art office space for our newspaper associates that will provide us the ability to continue to serve the greater Fredericksburg region for decades to come. It also will continue to allow direct access by our readers and advertisers who frequent Central Park on a regular basis.”
Along with the staff, the paper’s iconic paperboy statue “Lance” moved Monday, and was put into place on a new pedestal built outside of the business’ entrance by Abby Construction and Wegner Metal Arts.
Among those witnessing the statue’s move was the Henry Fonvielle, president of The Rappaport Cos., which owns the building in the Central Park Corporate Center.
“This is really part of the vision of Central Park being part of the Fredericksburg community instead of just a retail destination,” Fonvielle said as he watched the statue being installed.
Rappaport has owned Central Park since 2006, and Fonvielle said part of his goal for the complex is to make it a living, breathing part of the city that has activity all day long. Having office workers there is a big part of that, he said.
“The Free Lance-Star is an institution,” he said. “For such a local company to be a part of Central Park does a lot for vibrancy. Other companies will feed off that energy. They’ll want to be near that activity. “
The site was chosen out of 45 the paper initially contacted. The new 18,407-square-foot office was reconfigured out of multiple spaces by DLR Contacting and designed by Javier Arencibia of Arencibia Architects.
The move was aided by a Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority grant of $25,000 to help expenses, on the condition that the company remain in the city.
A new entrance was created, walls came down and windows were added to create an open, light-filled space, according to Jamie Scully of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer, who, along with CWT’s Sharon Schmidt and Susan Bourgeois of Rappaport, represented the landlord.
Lachniet said Rappaport’s flexibility in creating a perfect space for the newspaper was attractive when signing the 11-year lease with options to extend and expand.
He also said it was the largest single space in the region to relocate the newspaper’s office.
The Free Lance–Star’s 90,000-square-foot building at 616 Amelia St. was sold to local developer William J. Vakos Jr. in November of 2015, along with its parking lot across William Street. The Free Lance–Star leased the building from Vakos through the end of this year.
The newspaper’s office had been downtown since The Free Lance began publication in 1885. The paper moved from two buildings in the 300 block of William Street to 616 Amelia St. in 1965.
That building was tripled in size in 1992 to provide space for an expanding staff, as well as a new press and packaging equipment. Lance was added two years later.