Onni Group’s Times Mirror Square project clears major hurdle

The Canadian developer agreed to reserve affordable units after contending it wasn’t required to do so

A rendering of Times Mirror Square
A rendering of Times Mirror Square

After a bit of arm twisting, Onni Group has agreed to reserve 34 “middle income” affordable units at its Times Mirror Square project in Downtown Los Angeles.

The L.A. City Planning Commission approved the 1,130-unit project under that stipulation at a hearing on Tuesday, according to Commercial Observer. The project now goes to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Commission.

The CPC spent much of the meeting criticizing the lack of affordable housing and what some commissioners called a lackluster new design for the 1.51-million-square-foot development.

In May, the CPC told Onni to redesign the project and incorporate affordable housing. Onni Group representative Dan Goldsmith said the delays and the slowdown related to the coronavirus pandemic made it “very possible” that Onni would scrap the project altogether.

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On Tuesday, Goldsmith contended that onsite affordable housing “would jeopardize the project’s financial viability” and isn’t required for approval because Times Mirror Square doesn’t require a zone change, general plan amendment, or density bonus.

Ultimately however, Onni said it would repurpose $7.3 million originally intended for historic preservation of the project site, which includes the Art Deco former home of the L.A. Times, to fund the 34 middle income units.

The Times Mirror Square project has faced several hurdles since Onni Group purchased the former L.A. Times headquarters in 2016 for just over $100 million.

That included opposition to Onni’s planned demolition of a 1970s-era office building on the site. The City Council approved demolition in 2018. [Commercial Observer]Dennis Lynch

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