With the sale of the Times Mirror complex downtown complete, attention now turns to the future of the storied collection of buildings.
Much is at stake. Developer Onni Group, the new owner, is expected to seek permission from the city to replace at least a portion of the facility with a residential building. If that request, which as of last week had not formally been made, is approved, Onni would have to pony up an additional $10 million on top of the $105 million it paid to seller Tribune Media Co. for the property.
It would also likely mean the end of the William Pereira-designed building from 1973 at the northwest corner of Broadway and First Street, which sources familiar with Onni’s plans said the Vancouver developer wants to replace with a multifamily building.
Also in question is the future home of the Los Angeles Times, which has occupied all or part of the building since 1935. It became a tenant in the 750,000-square-foot complex when Tribune Co. rebranded as Tribune Media, splitting its publishing units off into Tribune Publishing, now called tronc Inc., and retaining the more lucrative broadcasting and real estate assets.
The Times has a lease until 2018 and two five-year options to renew. Tronc spokeswoman Dana Meyer said the paper has no immediate plans to move.
The sale to Onni, which has a slew of projects downtown, marks the first time that the property has traded out of the hands of a media company.
Sam Parrotta, the developer’s chief financial officer, last week confirmed that the transaction had closed.
“We’ve been in the L.A. market for a number of years, and we’re excited about the prospects of all our projects,” he said.
He declined to discuss specific plans for the Times building.
Gary Weitman, spokesman for Chicago-based Tribune Media, declined to comment, as did the broker marketing the property, Stephen Somer of Eastdil Secured.
Major redevelopment plans are also in the works for the Times printing plant, a 26-acre site in downtown’s industrial district that Tribune sold for $105 million to Harridge Development Group. Tronc holds a lease though 2023 with options to renew. David Schwartzman, Harridge’s president, said he would consider building retail and office space, beginning with seven vacant acres. Jones Lang LaSalle broker Carl Muhlstein, who represented Tribune, said the size of the parcel in a rapidly developing neighborhood attracted about 10 serious bidders.
Tribune Media last week also spun off another trophy asset – the Tribune Tower in Chicago, which it sold to CIM Group, based in Mid-Wilshire. CIM bought the 35-story neo-Gothic building and a neighboring parking lot for $205 million and might pay up to $35 million more contingent on certain conditions, a CIM spokeswoman said.
CIM’s redevelopment plans have not yet been revealed, but the site is zoned for office, hotel, residential, and retail uses.
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