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Preservationists Seek To Block Onni Group's Plans For Former LA Times Buildings

In a move that could block or delay Onni Group’s plans for redeveloping the Los Angeles Times building in downtown, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission has submitted an application to city officials to recognize the buildings as a city historic-cultural monument.

The Cultural Heritage Commission, which oversees the designation and protection of local landmarks in the city, is asking for a temporary stay on demolition and substantial alterations of the 83-year-old, 700K SF former Times headquarters at 202 West First St., according to a story by the LA Times.

The Globe lobby inside the LA Times building in downtown LA
The Globe lobby inside the LA Times building in downtown Los Angeles

A Bisnow request for an interview with commission members and a review of the application was not returned as of press time.

A request for comment from Onni was also not returned.

The Los Angeles Times, which is made up of several structures built between 1935 and 1973, is relocating this month from its longtime home in downtown for a new office campus in El Segundo

Vancouver-based Onni purchased the LA Times headquarters from the Tribune Co., the Times former publisher, for $105M in 2016, according to the Times, which cited CoStar records.

New Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong said earlier this year Onni hiked rents to $1M a month. There have been discussions of moving some of the artifacts such as the five-and-a-half-foot globe that anchors the Globe lobby to the Times’ new home in El Segundo, but preservationists and historians have raised concerns.

Onni has already submitted plans to redevelop the property formerly known as Times Mirror Square to a mixed-use high-rise residential, office and retail campus. Onni plans to start redeveloping the property in 2019.

If the city approves the Cultural Heritage Commission’s historic designation request, it could delay and complicate the project for up to a year.

The commission and Onni could work together to come up with alternate ideas for some of the buildings or keep some of the historic structures, according to the Times.

Onni would also receive certain tax benefits for preserving some buildings as part of the Mills Acts. 

The city will soon review the commission's proposal, the Times reported.