Preserving LA Times DTLA building gets closer to reality

Landmarking the massive Art Deco property would complicate Onni Group’s redevelopment plans

The original Art Deco former headquarters of the Los Angeles Times
The original Art Deco former headquarters of the Los Angeles Times

Onni Group is still intent on redeveloping the massive Los Angeles Times complex Downtown, but the situation is getting more complicated.

An effort to landmark the 750,000-square-foot Art Deco building, which Onni Group owns, now has the support of the city’s Office of Historic Resources, according to the L.A. Times.

Onni announced plans in 2016 to demolish part of the three-building complex at 202 W. 1st Street in order to build a mixed-use development that would include two condominium towers. The firm bought the complex for $100 million. That plan was challenged by preservationists in July.

Discussions for landmarking the complex will begin next week at the city Cultural Heritage Commission. The five-member commission oversees the designation and protection of local landmarks.

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The Office of Historic Resources provides staff support to the commission.

It said the Times buildings — including the 1970s-era additions that Onni wants to demolish — qualify for Historic-Cultural Monument status because they are associated with important L.A. historical figures and are architecturally significant, according to the Times.

A historic-cultural designation would allow the city to block demolition for six months, and let the City Council extend that by another six months. That would give Onni Group and the city time to reach an agreement on a development plan.

Onni, a Canadian developer, already planned to leave the original Art Deco newspaper headquarters intact, renovating the building and creating ground-floor retail. In total, the planned project would add 1,200 residential units to the site and a six-story office building, along with a public walkway through the site.

After is was acquired by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times moved to an office building in El Segundo when its lease expired at its longtime headquarters. [LAT] — Dennis Lynch