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AT&T will sell the CNN Center building in downtown Atlanta



The famous CNN Center building in downtown Atlanta may soon have a new owner, although CNN employees will remain there for at least a few more years.

AT&T, which owns CNN following the acquisition of Time Warner in 2018, has already agreed to sell or plans to sell the CNN Center, according to an internal company note sent on Monday. WarnerMedia, the AT&T subsidiary that manages CNN, will return the building to its new owners for at least five years.

CNN employees will not be affected immediately. But long-haul plans predict that many, if not most CNN employees, will move from the center to the recently renovated buildings near Georgia Tech that already house TNT, Cartoon Network and other WarnerMedia networks. WarnerMedia has a total of approximately 6,000 employees in Atlanta.

The CNN Center has long been a magnet in the city center. It was damaged in late May when protests over the death of George Floyd by police in Minnesota went violent. A large sign of the iconic red CNN logo, located in one of the main entrances to the building, was also damaged during the demonstrations, although it was quickly repaired the next day.

CNN has occupied its namesake building since 1

987, when Ted Turner moved the network from its original location to the Techwood campus, where it was founded in 1980.

That move “was a spark that catalyzed development there,” said Frank Sesno, a former CNN anchor. “It is exactly where Centennial Olympic Park was built. Over time, it has helped revitalize the center.”

After Turner sold CNN to Time Warner in 1996, network executives and anchors began moving from Atlanta to New York. When New York-based Jeff Zucker took over CNN in 2013, he moved all anchors on CNN weekdays to New York. Last year, WarnerMedia made a major investment in CNN’s facilities at Hudson Yards, a new mixed-use development in Manhattan.

Most recently, the CNN Center has been largely empty since many CNN employees have worked from home since the coronavirus pandemic hit in March. Many of these workers may not return to the office until next year. CNN also suspended its studio tour in March.

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The decision to sell the CNN Center was made by Time Warner executives years ago as a way to cut costs, although the plan was only put into motion after AT&T purchased Time Warner, Pascal Desroches, Chief Financial Officer of WarnerMedia said in Monday’s note. Desroches suggested that the CNN Center could be repurposed from an office building to have more emphasis on retail as part of the thriving tourism and entertainment economy in the center.

WarnerMedia may have already found a buyer for CNN Center, as Desroches said in the note, “we are not currently divulging the sale price.”