Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. will move two of its publishing units to San Diego from Orlando, Fla., over the next three months, creating about 100 new jobs. Most of the employees will be housed in a new 20,000-square-foot building that HBJ will build downtown, the company said Monday.
HBJ also announced it will sell the 104-acre Marineland site in Rancho Palos Verdes that it bought in December for $23.5 million. Last month, the theme park was closed, and several animals were moved to HBJ's Sea World park in San Diego after the company determined that Marineland needed at least $25 million in improvements.
The two publishing units HBJ is moving to San Diego are the books division of its Academic Press and the Grune & Stratton medical journals division. The two units have 150 employees in Orlando, but only about 50 are expected to accept transfers to San Diego, said Peter Jovanovich, executive vice president.
To house the divisions, HBJ will begin construction immediately on a two-story, $1-million building at 6th Avenue and Ash Street, across the street from its 12-story headquarters building, Jovanovich said. HBJ owns roughly 40,000 square feet of vacant land there, or two-thirds of the block bounded by 5th and 6th avenues and A and Ash streets.
HBJ has long been said to be considering development on a much larger scale of the property, which is now used as a parking lot. But Jovanovich, son of HBJ Chairman William Jovanovich, said the 20,000-square-foot building is all that is planned at present.
The move of the two publishing divisions will raise to about 900 the number of publishing employees HBJ has in San Diego. An additional 800 are employed at Sea World. HBJ employs 15,000 people nationwide, Jovanovich said.
Academic Books publishes 400 to 500 books a year, making it the largest U.S.-based technical publishing operation, Jovanovich said. Academic Press' journals division was moved to San Diego in 1982. The move will consolidate HBJ's scientific and technical publishing operations, he said.
HBJ said it was selling the oceanfront Marineland site rather than try to develop the parcel itself because of negative publicity surrounding the closing of the attraction last month. HBJ attorney Jerold Miles said there is "no way the city would look upon (HBJ) favorably as an acceptable developer of the property."
Rancho Palos Verdes officials were critical of HBJ's decision to sell.
"It's true to form," City Councilwoman Jacki Bacharach said. "Last week, they told us they weren't selling the land, so we should have known they were selling. They could have gotten a fair shake if they had given the city a fair shake."