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L.A. Times building sold to Canadian developer

Los Angeles Times
The Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A. has been sold to Onni Group of Vancouver.
(Jerome Adamstein / Los Angeles Times)

Chicago media company Tribune Media Co. has sold a trio of properties for a combined $430 million, including the Los Angeles Times building in downtown Los Angeles.

The sale of Times Mirror Square to Onni Group paves the way for the redevelopment of a historic building the paper has called home since 1935. The Vancouver firm has explored turning the property at 202 W. 1st St. into a collection of creative offices, shops and residential units.

The Times reported in June that Onni had signed an agreement to buy the building. The sale officially closed Monday night, a source familiar with the deal said Tuesday.

Tribune Media formally announced the sale Wednesday morning, in addition to the sale of two other properties — The Times printing facility off Olympic Boulevard and Tribune Tower in Chicago. 

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In its news release, Tribune didn’t mention individual buyers or prices, but the source familiar with the Times Mirror deal said that Onni paid more than $100 million for the 750,000-square-foot complex.

An executive at Onni Group did not return messages seeking comment.

Known as Times Mirror Square, the L.A. Times’  headquarters is a mix of five interconnected structures that fill an entire city block, bounded by Broadway and Spring and 1st and 2nd streets. A redevelopment would dramatically remake the City Center neighborhood by turning the aging buildings occupied by The Times and other businesses into a bustling, mixed-use center.

The W. 2nd St. entrance to the Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.
The W. 2nd St. entrance to the Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A.
(Jerome Adamstein / Los Angeles Times )

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A person familiar with Onni’s pursuit of the Times building said in late June that the developer was considering tearing down a section of the complex along 1st Street to build apartments. That portion dates back to the 1970s and currently houses a Bank of America branch and offices.

The acquisition is a significant gain for Onni, which has been on a buying spree in downtown L.A., where it also owns at least eight other properties — including offices, apartments and an extended-stay hotel.

Among the more ambitious developments is a 49-story residential tower under construction near the corner of 8th and Hill streets and Level DTLA, a 33-story building with fully furnished extended-stay apartments that opened on Olive Street last year.

It’s unclear if the Los Angeles Times will stay in the building, known for its Art Deco lobby with a large revolving globe.

For now, the newspaper — located downtown since its founding as the Los Angeles Daily Times in 1881 — has a lease until 2018, with two consecutive five-year options beyond that, a person familiar with the terms said in June.

The historic Globe Lobby at the Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A..
The historic Globe Lobby at the Los Angeles Times building in downtown L.A..
(Jerome Adamstein / Los Angeles Times )

“The Los Angeles Times has a long-term lease in place with options to renew and no immediate plans to move,” a spokeswoman for the paper’s owner, Tronc Inc., said Tuesday.

Onni was founded by Italian immigrant Inno De Cotiis with the company’s name an anagram of his first name. It has helped transform Vancouver from a sleepy town to a dense city with soaring glass towers.

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Onni has offices in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago and Ensenada, Mexico, and is run by Inno’s son Rossano.

It has built more than 6,000 residences in North America over the last decade and owns and manages 6.5 million square feet of commercial space and more than 4,600 apartments, according to its website.

“They are one of the more prolific and successful developers in the country,” said Anne McMullin, president of the Urban Development Institute in Vancouver, a trade group that counts Onni as a member.

The Times building sale was triggered by the 2014 spinoff of The Times, the Chicago Tribune and other newspapers from Tribune Co. into a separate company, Tribune Publishing, now known as Tronc.

Tribune Co., which was renamed Tribune Media, retained the Times building and other real estate, including The Times’ downtown printing facility off Olympic Boulevard.

The printing facility was purchased by a partnership headed by L.A.-based Harridge Development Group, its chief executive, David  Schwartzman, said Tuesday. He declined to discuss plans for the property.

Los Angeles developer CIM Group was the buyer of the Tribune tower in Chicago, which it purchased for at least $205 million.

Tribune, which owns television stations across the country, including KTLA in Los Angeles, has been selling its real estate assets.

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The closing of the Times Mirror Square sale was first reported by the Los Angeles Business Journal.

andrew.khouri@latimes.com

Follow me @khouriandrew on Twitter

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UPDATES:

Sept. 28, 9:40 a.m.: This article has been updated with additional details.

This article was originally published on Sept. 27 at 12:35 p.m.


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