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Baltimore Sun group to buy City Paper

The City Paper, the free alternative Baltimore weekly that was founded in 1977, is being swallowed up by the big kid on the block.

City PaperBaltimore Sun Media Group said Thursday it’s buying the City Paper for an undisclosed price in a transaction scheduled to close in March.

The company said it will move the City Paper’s staff to The Sun’s Calvert Street headquarters but would keep its newsroom and sales team independent.

The City Paper’s offices are in an old rowhouse at 812 Park Ave. in Mount Vernon. It lists its weekly circulation at just over 50,000 and says it receives about 200,000 unique visitors to its Web and mobile sites each month.

The seller is Times-Shamrock Communication, based in Scranton, Pa. Times-Shamrock, which bought the City Paper from founders Russ Smith and Alan Hirsch, said it sold four other weeklies at the end of last year, in Orlando, Fla., San Antonio, Texas, Cleveland and Detroit.

The Baltimore Sun Media Group said the acquisition was its first since 1995, when it bought Patuxent Publishing Co.’s community newspapers and magazines.

“This represents a great opportunity to add another successful media property to our portfolio,” said Timothy E. Ryan, publisher, president and CEO of the Baltimore Sun Media Group. “This acquisition will allow us to build upon the existing success of the City Paper. We want the paper to remain a valued alternative, independent voice in Baltimore. That’s what made it attractive to us — it’s adding a unique population of readers to our overall audience.”

The Baltimore Sun Media Group’s announcement did not address the future of b, a free weekly that it has also been publishing on Wednesdays. That publication, which started out as a daily, was launched under Ryan’s leadership to appeal to young adults.

Jennifer Marsh, niche products director for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, was named the City Paper’s general manager. Marsh, who began her career at City Paper as an editorial intern and eventually held its top leadership role in 2011, joined the Baltimore Sun Media Group last year.