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LA Times Moving Out Of Its Iconic HQ For New Offices In El Segundo

For Darrell Kunitomi, a communications representative for the LA Times, the newspaper’s 83-year-old headquarters in downtown Los Angeles has been a second home. 

For nearly 40 years, Kunitomi has served as the LA Times building tour guide, hosting more than 300 tours a year. He estimates he has led more than 400,000 people on tours during his career.

The Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles

Kunitomi tells visitors about the 1935 building’s famous Globe Lobby, the 44 Pulitzer Prizes listed on the wall, the 10-foot-high murals by Hugo Ballin, the 5.5-foot revolving aluminum globe on a bronze pedestal and the busts of the Times’ famous editor Harry Chandler, the second Times publisher, who vowed to build this building “extra strong” after the Times' first headquarters across the street was blown up by a union radical bomber in 1910

The LA Times has been in downtown since 1881.

“This building is one of the finest Art Deco representations in the United States,” Kunitomi said. “It’s been a landmark. Along with City Hall across the street, this makes up classic downtown.”

Kunitomi sighs, knowing that this building as it is, the lobby and the globe that represents the Times coverage area might not be around much longer. 

The LA Times is moving from its longtime 750K SF home on First and Spring streets for a new office campus in El Segundo, about a 20-mile drive southwest of downtown Los Angeles. Times staffers are expected to begin relocating in early July.

The new LA Times owner, biomedical billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who officially closed on the $500M newspaper acquisition and other assets earlier this month, announced the move in April, shocking many longtime staffers.

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

Onni Group, the building owner, Soon-Shiong said, was demanding an increase of $1M in monthly rent. The Times lease ends in June.

Onni acquired the LA Times building and other property in September 2016 from former Times publisher Tribune Media Co. for $460M.

Soon-Shiong said a new and fully owned headquarters would allow the Times to create a modern news campus for the next 100 years rather than continuing to lease its building. 

Messages to Vancouver-based Onni were not returned as of press time. 

Kunitomi said he and others in his department are moving to El Segundo by July 6. Editorial and other departments will begin to move in early July, he said.

The LA Times is moving to a seven-story, 120K SF building on 2300 East Imperial Highway in El Segundo, the Times reported and El Segundo officials confirmed. 

The building will feature space for office across several floors, a museum, event space and retail, according to the LA Times.

The Times reported the newspaper could keep some office space downtown. The Times has a printing plant on Olympic Boulevard and could house reporters and others with assignments downtown.

New LA Times headquarters at 2300 East Imperial Ave. in El Segundo

El Segundo Economic Development Manager Barbara Voss said the city is looking forward to welcoming the LA Times and its 800 employees to the community.

El Segundo City Manager Greg Carpenter said city staff has been working with Soon-Shiong for the past year.

Soon-Shiong’s real estate company has acquired 11 buildings in El Segundo in the past couple of years, including a medical center, which is now the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Medicine, and the Times headquarters, Carpenter said. 

Soon-Shiong's Live Oak Properties purchased the Times building in El Segundo in 2017 for $52M.

“We have a relationship with Soon-Shiong,” Carpenter said. “I think he recognized the advantages of doing business in El Segundo. It’s really about the ease of doing business here and having that relationship.”

Messages to a representative for Soon-Shiong were not returned as of press time.

An old printing machine inside the LA Times' Globe Lobby in downtown Los Angeles

CBRE Senior Vice President John Zanetos said he expects Onni to follow through with the group's plans to transform the Times building in downtown LA into a modern mixed-use residential, office and retail complex. 

Zanetos said the Times leaving downtown is not that significant in terms of workspace. The newspaper, amidst a declining subscriber base, had been downsizing for decades. 

"From an office impact, it's minor. It is not what it used to be," Zanetos said. "To me, it's much more of a symbolic move with the LA Times moving out of their roots."

He expects technology and entertainment tenants to take over the space once it is fully built out. 

Kunitomi, the Times tour guide, is going to miss the place. 

“I really thought I was going to retire here and one day pass by and say, ‘Hey, I used to work there,’” Kunitomi said.

 The LA Times tours stopped a couple of weeks ago.

On a recent visit, although there were no official tours, people were seen inside the Globe lobby taking pictures in front of an old printing machine, the large globe and walking around reading old newspaper headlines displayed along the walls.

"I’m a sentimental person," said Kunitomi, who is also a part-time actor. "I went to high school half a mile away. I’m a lover of LA history. Moving from here is a very deep and emotional thing for me, it’s like leaving my own home."

Kunitomi said although it is moving, the Times will continue its mission — to bring the city together.

"This paper has been the one consistent gluing force," he said. "When the Lakers won, there was the Times. When the Dodgers and Kings won, there was the Times where people would read about it. We've investigated and dug in city agencies. 

"The Times more than any other institution grew the spirit of the community together and I have no doubt will continue to do that."