Onni Group must redesign Times Mirror Square project, but the clock is ticking

The LA City Planning Commission wants a new design and more affordable housing

Onni Group’s Rossano DeCotiis and a rendering of the project
Onni Group’s Rossano DeCotiis and a rendering of the project

Onni Group has to literally go back to the drawing board if it wants to build its massive mixed-use Times Mirror Square project in Downtown Los Angeles.

The L.A. Department of City Planning directed the company to “fundamentally” change the design and makeup of the project, according to Commercial Observer. A representative for the Canadian developer expressed concern that changes would completely derail the 1.51-million-square-foot project.

Commissioners said they were “troubled” by the lack of affordable housing as well as Onni’s plans for city allocation fees. They also aren’t fans of the project’s design, telling Onni Group to return with a plan “that can stand out in our skyline.”

Onni’s current plan would add a pair of high-rise towers to the Times Mirror Square property, the longtime home of the L.A. Times. Onni planned to incorporate the Art Deco Times Mirror building into the project. The mixed-use development plans called for more than 1,100 residential units as well as retail and office space. Onni, a Canadian developer, acquired the site in 2016 for just over $100 million.

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The project had some pushback from people who wanted to preserve a 1970s-era building that would be demolished to make way for the towers, but the City Council had cleared a path for that demolition back in 2018.

Onni Group representative Dan Goldsmith said that delays on top of shutdowns related to the coronavirus pandemic threaten the viability of the project. He said it was “very possible” the project wouldn’t be completed if the economy worsens.

“There’s a saying that time kills all deals, and I’m concerned that with the circumstances that exist here today, time will kill this project,” he said. [Commercial Observer]Dennis Lynch