The Real Deal Los Angeles

Onni might convert LA Times building site into mixed-use residential complex

Plans include the demolition of a 1973-built portion of the property at Broadway and First
June 27, 2016 12:00PM

Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori and the L.A. Times building at 202 West 1st Street (credit: Speakermedia, Zocalo Public Square)

Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori and the L.A. Times building at 202 West 1st Street (credit: Speakermedia, Zocalo Public Square)

Just like the newspaper industry itself, the Los Angeles Times may soon have to opt for new avenues — literally.

Onni Group, the developer in contract to purchase the 750,000-square-foot Art Deco landmark from the company formerly known as Tribune Media — and now called tronc — is planning to demolish parts of the complex to create a retail and residential mixed-use development.

Onni, a Vancouver-based firm which has been snatching up Downtown properties left and right in recent years, is buying the building at 202 West 1st Street for about $120 million, a source told the L.A. Business Journal. The core of the structure was built in 1935, but it was later expanded in 1973 to include a brown building on its west side. Onni is considering tearing down the newer portion to make way for apartments, the Business Journal reported.

The original structure, as well as an adjoining tower that rose in 1948, would remain and undergo office and retail renovations.

But updating the property won’t be an easy — or cheap — venture. Bringing the building up to code, for instance, may be a painstaking process.

“The codes have gotten more and more strict, and all the agencies have gotten less and less lenient with old buildings,” architect Karin Liljegren told the Business Journal. “At the same time, you have the historic folks that have very specific guidelines on what you can or can’t do, and sometimes the two don’t line up.”

Not to mention, the historic status of the 1935 and 1948 structures will necessitate an environmental impact report for the demolition of the 1973 building.

As for the Times, which is currently leasing eight of the 10 floors, the option to stay is still available. But relocating is a likely choice as well; A move to a less clunky creative office space would be in line with tronc’s slimmed-down “content monetization” focus.

“We have a long-term lease in place with options to renew well into the future,” Times spokeswoman Hillary Manning told the Business Journal via email. “We are also very interested in exploring a new arrangement that would ensure an even better, more collaborative workspace.” [LABJ]Cathaleen Chen