CLEARWATER — The Tampa Bay Times is on the move.
The newspaper signed a lease Monday for a new Clearwater bureau at 1130 Cleveland St. The bureau will be relocating from 710 Court St., where it has operated since 1978.
The Times will be the primary tenant in an office building undergoing a complete renovation. The Mediterranean-style building is just west of Missouri Avenue, between the Fifth Third Bank and an unfinished condominium tower formerly known as The Strand.
The lease for the 6,200-square-foot space begins March 1, provided the building's interior is completed by then. The lease is for five years, with options to renew. Times advertising and news staffers will occupy the first floor of the building and will move in sometime in early 2013.
As part of the deal, the Times received naming rights to the building, said Jana Jones, Times Publishing Company's chief financial officer. Potential names are under discussion.
"This move reaffirms our commitment to the readers and advertisers of North Pinellas," said Times Chairman and CEO Paul Tash. "The Times was first published in Dunedin in 1884, and the communities of North Pinellas remain a vital part of our future. We look forward to working from these stylish new quarters in downtown Clearwater."
The city of Clearwater purchased the Times property at 710 Court St. in 2011 for $2.2 million. The city plans to raze the building and eventually use the site as a transit hub, officials confirmed Tuesday.
"We're certainly excited about having the Times as a tenant," said Guy Bonneville, manager of 1130 Cleveland St. Sebastian Dorner, Bonneville's father-in-law, owns the building, and their family owns about eight vacant acres adjacent to the property.
"Timing-wise, it fits really well with our renovation schedule," Bonneville said. "We have high expectations for this neck of the woods."
The lease signing is another step toward the end for the old bureau Times staffers have known for years as "the bunker," a nickname the building earned for its lack of windows.
Built in 1978, the bureau was designed as an experiment in energy efficiency, and was so state-of-the-art at the time that weekly tours of the building were given for the public. Its rooftop solar panels and a 100-foot-tall windmill were intended to produce power for lights and computers, but the windmill has not spun in years.
Times staff writer Drew Harwell contributed to this report. Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or [email protected]