No, not me. This time it’s the Hillsboro Argus that’s moved. Again.
To the AmberGlen Corporate Campus, to a modern four-story structure that’s as different in every imaginable way from the Argus’ previous home.
If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I’ve chronicled many of the changes involving the Oregonian Media Group, the multimedia company that came into existence when the newspaper-centric Oregonian Publishing Co. went out of business in October 2013.
For 2 1/2 years, I had commuted to Hillsboro as editorial page editor for the Argus and, later, the Forest Grove Leader. I moved back downtown to OMG’s new offices last November to begin a new reporting assignment. In between, the company sold the Argus building in downtown Hillsboro and temporarily relocated the staff (including me) to Beaverton to join the staff of another OMG publication.
Last month, the final piece fell into place. Everyone moved out of the cramped Beaverton building into shiny, new leased space in the AmberGlen office park, just inside the easternmost Hillsboro city limits. The building is a short walk to the Streets of Tanasbourne, a regional shopping mall, and just south of Cornell Road, a major west-east thoroughfare carrying commuters between Portland and Hillsboro.
Though I’m now based in Portland, I try to spend one or two days a week in the new office, which serves as a news and advertising bureau for most of Washington County, home to Nike and Intel. Getting out of downtown helps remind me there’s much more to this state than just its largest city.
Still, it’s jarring to work out of this new place, smack in the middle of suburbia. There is still so much undeveloped land nearby that there’s no sense of place. From our offices on the third floor, I look out and it seems I could be anywhere. Southern California? Bellevue, Washington? Kansas City?
The Argus, for better or worse, occupied the same location in downtown Hillsboro for almost 60 years. It was the kind of place where people walked in off the street and placed a classified ad for a garage sale, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with an ad saleswoman as she typed the text onto a computer screen.
At AmberGlen, one of two Class A office buildings at the end of Walker Road, we’re miles from the historic downtown district, hardly conducive to foot traffic and drop-in visitors. The brick-and-glass structure has a huge parking lot, a spacious lobby with a touch screen to find the building occupants, sleek elevators, and a vibe that makes me feel as if I’m walking in to refinance a mortgage.
As a matter of fact, our fellow tenants include a title company, a financial services firm and an accounting and business consulting practice.
The Argus newsroom is on the third floor, at the end of a corridor with art work on the walls. Inside, it’s like a smaller version of downtown, with new desks and cubicles left, center and right. There’s a small kitchen, a conference room and four small rooms suitable for meetings or private conversations. One even has a standing desk. The lobby consists of a sectional couch just inside the entry door. It’s tasteful and functional, I’m sure, but I doubt it will get much use from visitors.
I’m not complaining, mind you. The old Argus building was decades past its prime — chilly during the winter and uncomfortably warm in summer. The Beaverton office was soulless. So I’m not pining for either place — and I’m obviously not privy to financial decisions made by the business side of the operation.
All I’m saying is, when you’re doing community journalism it helps to be part of that community. The old Hillsboro office was a five-minute walk to city hall and the county courthouse and administrative offices, nestled in the heart of the downtown business district, and less than 50 yards from the light-rail stop and bus transfer station.
The new office is miles from all those places.
An open house at the Hillsboro/Tanasbourne/AmberGlen office is planned next month. I will be interested to see what the turnout is like.