Golf simulator? Ridder's reported mansion suggests Strib austerity plans aren't for him

The five-bathroom, three-car-garage mansion that Star Tribune publisher Par Ridder reportedly purchased is impressive in its grandeur -- as it should be, I suppose -- but not over-the-top in a William Randolph Hearst kind of way. Yet to the 145 or so Star Tribune employees affected by Ridder-orchestrated downsizing -- and the dismayed Pioneer Press employees who are emailing the real estate link around this week -- the 8,000-square-foot Lake of the Isles mansion might seem excessively posh.

The home, according to an architectural walking tour that once made its way through Minneapolis' Kenwood neighborhood, was the first home of another newspaper man, Plumleigh Rogers, who edited the Daily Market Record. But it's likely that another news icon, former WCCO anchor Paul Magers, who owned the home before moving to Los Angeles in 2004, added amenities like a golf-simulator (if, like me, you haven't played simulated golf, it must be something like this). The realty listing also boasts a heated in-ground pool, gourmet kitchen and a "lavish master suite with great views." The Rake's media critic Brian Lambert is convinced Ridder bought the property, which sold on May 14 for $2.73 million. The taxes this year are just shy of $42,000, according to Hennepin County records. (The May sale and the home's new owner have not yet been recorded with the county.)

The realty link made it to my inbox with a note from a former Pioneer Press newsroom employee who took a buyout, along with 21 others, last December: "Apparently, Par isn't too concerned about any judge's ruling that might encourage him to leave town anytime soon."

Ridder's former paper is suing him and two other former executives who took jobs at the Star Tribune for, among other charges, violating the contract clause that prohibits them for working for the competition within a year of leaving St. Paul. If Ridder has indeed bought the mansion, he's probably fairly confident that Ramsey County District Judge David Higgs will not prevent him from keeping his new job at the Strib. The next phase of the suit is a June 25 hearing over a temporary injunction related to the hiring of Jennifer Parratt, a PiPress executive the paper says had a non-compete clause in her contract. The injunction has kept Parratt from working at the Strib.

"The pricey house is another statement on how well people at the top are doing in big business these days, while the rank and file continue to lose ground," said the former Pioneer Press newsroom employee.

No comments: