The iconic home of the Tuscaloosa News will be at least partially demolished to make way for the still-being-designed Saban Center, Mayor Walt Maddox is confirming this week.

Earlier this year, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey pledged to significantly support the Saban Center - a STEM learning hub born from the partnership of Nick and Terry Saban with the City of Tuscaloosa and its school system - during her annual State of the State.

The pledge she made in March did not come with a price tag, but Maddox says the state of Alabama is chipping in $25 million - a huge boon that has engineers re-thinking what is possible for the site.

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Whatever the final design looks like, it will mean the partial or complete demolition of the 90,000-square-foot Tuscaloosa News building, which the New York Times had built in 2002 before they sold off the newspaper to Halifax Media Holdings in late 2011.

(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)
(Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)

Halifax was acquired by GateHouse Media in 2015, and Gatehouse has since merged with Gannett, now the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S. While the details of that union were still being negotiated, GateHouse sold the Tuscaloosa News building to the city for $8 million, before the Saban Center concept had been shared publicly.

The building's future has been in question since it was sold, and the state's investment could mean less repurposing and more replacement.

Maddox explained the decision on the Steve & DC Morning Show on 95.3 the Bear Tuesday morning.

"It may not be a complete demolition, but we're going through a final design right now to see what we can use with it," Maddox told the radio hosts. "With the state coming on board now, with their $25 million expansion, it really requires us to change the footprint of the building - in a very positive way - because we'll be able to help so many more teachers and students, so we know at some point there's going to have to be a partial or complete demolition. We're going into that final design phase and that will take about a year, and that will determine how much of the structure can be saved, can be salvaged or can be sold and those proceeds would then go back into the project."

The project is part of a much broader plan to totally reimagine Tuscaloosa's Black  Warrior riverfront, as the Saban Center will connect be connected via the city's new $10 million pedestrian bridge to the recently completed River District Park, the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, an ever-expanding Riverwalk and more.

For more details on the Saban Center as they become available, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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