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Creative Loafing Atlanta, sister alt-weekly Washington City Paper bought

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The nation’s second-largest alternative weekly publishing group has acquired Creative Loafing Atlanta and the Washington City Paper, though neither the terms nor purchase price were immediately disclosed.

SouthComm, a Nashville, TN-based outfit, already counts papers and magazines across the south and midwest among its stable of alt-weeklies. But its acquisition of CL and WCP from Atalaya Capital marks something of a break from an operating model in which it served relatively small markets.

Hobbled from its status as chief rival to Village Voice Media group, Creative Loafing–which had previously unloaded two former papers in Tampa and Charlotte last year to SouthComm–was muscled into a court-monitored restructuring in 2009 after its former owner assumed $30 million in debt the organization could no longer shoulder.

Its top creditor, Atalaya, scored control of the company after several rounds of litigation and has since been brokering its sale piecemeal. (The New York-based investment firm recently hawked the Chicago Reader to Sun-Times Media LLC for $3 million.)

Once ownership has been fully transferred, the Atlanta paper’s editor in chief Eric Celeste wrote on the paper’s blog, “Creative Loafing will no longer exist as a company,” linking to a image in which a 40′s-worth of malt liquor is poured on the ground.

— Georgia Tipsheet (@GeorgiaTipsheet) July 3, 2012

“I am excited to welcome these two excellent papers to SouthComm,” CEO Chris Ferrell said in a statement Tuesday. “Washington City Paper and Creative Loafing are two of the leading alt-weeklies in the country in two of the most influential cities in the world. I look forward to working with the staff in both markets to build on their legacy on strong news reporting and in-depth coverage of dining, music, arts, and culture.”

CL editor Celeste said that the paper’s new editorial overlords have expressed no immediate interest in editorial shifts.

- James Richardson

Full disclosure: I have previously penned the “First Word” column for Creative Loafing.