Landmark effort could thwart Onni’s development plans for LA Times complex

As the paper exits under new ownership, preservationists seek to stop Onni Group from building 2 apartment towers at the site

William Pereira's 1973 addition to the Los Angeles Times complex (Credit: Omar Bárcena via Flickr)
William Pereira's 1973 addition to the Los Angeles Times complex (Credit: Omar Bárcena via Flickr)

The Onni Group has big plans for the Los Angeles Times building complex, after the paper’s new owner moves its headquarters from Downtown to El Segundo.

But preservationists seeking to landmark the site at 202 W. 1st St., have plans of their own.

Los Angeles officials accepted an application to the Cultural Heritage Commission to consider making the complex — which dates from the 1930s up to the ’70s — a Historic-Cultural Monument, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Landmarking the complex could delay owner Onni’s plans to demolish some of the property, formerly known as Times Mirror Square, to make way for two apartment towers it is seeking to build.

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Vancouver-based Onni has been quiet about its plans at the Times property, but in 2016 submitted plans to the city to build a 1,127-unit, two-tower complex on the site . The towers will be 37 and 53 stories tall. Onni also wants to renovate the office space in the Times’ 1935 building and create 8,700 square feet of retail space on the ground floor there. Last year the company signed Uber to an 18,000-square-foot lease at the property.

The Times is moving out of the buildings this month to a property in El Segundo, which its new owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, recently purchased.  Onni Group plans to keep two Art Deco buildings dating from the 1930s and 1940s intact, but demolish a 1973 office addition designed by celebrated architect William Pereira.

Last week, the City Council designated Pereira’s CBS Television Studio campus a Historical-Cultural Monument, which could create redevelopment issues of its own for any new owner.

That 25-acre campus Fairfax District dates from 1952 and hit the market last year. The L.A. Conservancy spearheaded the campaign, but isn’t officially involved in the effort to landmark Pereira’s Times office building.

For the L.A. Times complex, Onni also plans to demolish a parking garage and former printing plant on the property. Richard Schave, a historian leading the landmarking effort, said he was primarily interested in preserving Pereira’s office addition. Pereira designed the iconic Theme building at Los Angeles International Airport and numerous other properties around the city.

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