Historic Headliner: Downtown headquarters of Los Angeles Times.

Historic Headliner: Downtown headquarters of Los Angeles Times. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

Onni Group, the Vancouver developer that has put the storied Los Angeles Times building under contract, plans to demolish portions of the square-block, 750,000-square-foot complex to make way for a residential and retail development.

A source familiar with the transaction said Onni agreed to pay about $120 million to Tribune Media Co., the Chicago company that took the broadcast and real estate assets of the former Tribune Co., in the deal that was struck this month. The Times, owned by tronc Inc., is a tenant in the building.

Onni intends to build apartments in place of a 1970s-era chunk of the building at Broadway and First Street, according to sources familiar with its plan. The stone-clad segments from 1935 and 1948, along Spring Street, would undergo renovations to house offices and retailers.

Representatives of Onni and Tribune declined to comment.

The broker marketing the building for Tribune, Stephen Somer of Eastdil Secured, did not return phone calls requesting comment.

The deal marks the second time the Times building has gone to contract. A previous deal, for about $140 million, was struck in December but came undone about three months later, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Onni, the source said, intends to put up about $50 million in equity and is seeking financing for the balance.

Cobbled together over generations, the massive Times complex comprises a moderne-style structure along Spring built in 1935; an adjoining tower constructed in 1948; a brown, boxy building on the western side of the property completed in 1973; and an adjoining parking lot.

Hopes are high that if the Onni deal closes and it proceeds with the redevelopment, the project would energize a full block in downtown’s Civic Center next to a future light-rail station, at the tip of the reviving Historic Core.

“They’re going to reactivate it,” said Mark Tarczynski, an executive vice president at Colliers International in downtown who was not involved in the transaction. “It’s going to become a property that is restored to its former glory.”

Past times

Most of downtown’s striking historic buildings have already been picked up for redevelopment as apartments, hotels, or offices. But none can claim the historical significance of Times Mirror Square, as the property at 202 W. First St. is officially dubbed.

The Times commissioned the building after union activists bombed its headquarters in 1910, and the site’s expansion over the decades, under ownership of the Chandler family, reflected the paper’s influence and prestige.


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