The GW Hatchet purchased a townhouse on F Street Wednesday that will be renovated into a modernized headquarters with double the space of its old office.
The Hatchet has worked out of a crammed, two-story office at 2140 G St. since 1994, the year after it became editorially and financially independent from GW. It pays full rent to use the University-owned townhouse, but that landlord-tenant tie will cease when the staff moves into the three-floor property by the end of this year.
In a quiet phase of a $2 million fundraising campaign, the nonprofit Home for The Hatchet – run by Hatchet alumnus and board of directors member Ken Chaletzky – has raised about $300,000 to put toward the new building. Chaletzky has been the driving force behind the move, leading the nonprofit’s fundraising efforts and financial deals. He served as a business staffer and production manager from 1967 to 1971.
“We’re just getting started with our public campaign, and we’re very pleased with how we’ve gotten off the ground. We’ve got a long ways to go,” he said. “The space The Hatchet is in now is inadequate. If you’re going to attract more people to the paper, you need a facility that makes them want to come here.”
Each floor of the new building will be lined with spacious offices for each Hatchet section, from web and news to opinions. The basement will feature a conference room to host events and hold educational training for student journalists.
There are several planned upgrades to The Hatchet’s new home, like handicap accessibility, a kitchen, a lounge and an expanded business office.
The move will give the staff a greater lab for producing high-quality journalism, Hatchet editor in chief Priya Anand said.
“The staff will be able to expand and have more in-house workshops to build a stronger cadre of reporters,” Anand said. “More room means greater opportunity to expand the staff box, which can only lead to greater innovation.”
Several potential donors have also paid for the naming rights of the editor in chief’s office, newsroom and business office. Naming opportunities are still available for several rooms, like the web and photo offices, as well $750,000 for the entire building.
Berl Brechner, 66, who served as editor in chief in 1967, sponsored the newsroom. He said he was driven by fond memories of covering the University and the city amid Vietnam War protests during his tenure.
“The opportunity as an editor to manage a staff, meet deadlines, work hard and long hours – all of that was as meaningful to my education as any other coursework,” Brechner said.
The plans for the move began in 2008, but were shelved amid the financial crisis.
The move will also help The Hatchet financially by cutting down on the monthly rent costs of about $4,300 it pays the University. By owning its own building, The Hatchet will save up to $26,000 a year in rent, Evelyn Gardner, The Hatchet’s general manager, said.
Chaletzky said GW has been a fair landlord throughout the paper’s time in its leased space on G Street.
“The University has been extremely helpful in all aspects of this project, especially in the acquisition of the property and in our fundraising efforts,” he said.
Founded in 1904, The Hatchet is the second-oldest continuously published newspaper in the District. It prints twice weekly and runs a daily online operation, netting several awards like “best non-daily” and photography, multimedia and opinions honors in the last few years.