(Carl Cronan is editor of RealEstateFlorida.)

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL-Cox Enterprises Inc. is putting its Valpakdirect-mail advertising division up for sale as part of an overallmove toward focusing on its core communications business. In thebalance is a long-term lease by Valpak at its massive 460,000-sfindustrial building along Interstate 275 and the west bank of TampaBay.

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Valpak, which produces familiar blue envelopes stuffed withcoupons distributed nationwide, opened its $220-million printingand mailing facility earlier this year with over 1,000 employees.The plant is owned by Grady Pridgen Inc., a St. Petersburg-basedcommercial developer that would not disclose additional detailsabout Valpak's lease terms when contacted Thursday.

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In addition to Valpak, Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises plans tosell several of its smaller newspapers, including the AustinAmerican-Statesman and others in Texas, North Carolina andColorado. It will retain the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, PalmBeach (FL) Post and Dayton (OH) Daily News, a company releasestated.

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"This decision was made as part of an ongoing strategic reviewof our portfolio and enables us to maintain our strong and stablefinancial performance by further paying down debt," stated JimKennedy, Cox Enterprises chairman and CEO. Approximately 80% of thecompany's revenue comes from sources other than its traditionalmedia holdings, such as newspapers and radio and televisionstations.

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Kennedy noted in a release that Valpak is considered an industryleader and trusted brand among consumers, adding that itsstate-of-the-art production facility allows it to operate moreeffectively. Valpak was established in Largo in 1968 and bought byCox Enterprises in 1991, after which it was rebranded as Cox TargetMedia. Goldman Sachs will assist with marketing Valpak, withinformation for prospective buyers to be released in September.

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Construction of Valpak's St. Petersburg plant began in early2006 and was completed late last year. The facility combinedcompany operations in Largo and Elm City, NC, and now mails out anestimated 500 million coupon-filled envelopes in 17 languagesannually.

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Valpak's lease is one of the largest industrial deals executedin the Tampa-St. Petersburg market in many years. The metro area'sindustrial vacancy rate at midyear is 6.7%, including 4.1% in theSouth Pinellas submarket where Valpak is a tenant, according toClearwater-based Colliers Arnold.

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