The sprawling downtown plant where the Los Angeles Times is printed has been sold to a New York real estate developer that builds large-scale mixed-use complexes in Los Angeles and other cities.
Atlas Capital Group paid about $240 million for the 26-acre site on Olympic Boulevard alongside the Santa Monica freeway where The Times is a tenant, according to people who know about the deal.
The seller was a partnership led by Los Angeles landlord and builder Harridge Development Group, which paid $120 million for the plant three years ago. In recent years, the industrial neighborhood where it lies has enjoyed a run-up in property values as the nearby Arts and Fashion districts have seen billions of dollars worth of new residential, office and retail projects.
Just a few blocks from the printing plant, Atlas is developing the Row DTLA on Alameda Street, where Atlas and its partners are turning 2 million square feet of historic warehouses into offices, restaurants and stores while still serving as a hub for the local produce industry.
The Olympic printing plant was built by the newspaper in the late 1980s to replace obsolete printing operations at its downtown headquarters.
The Times became a tenant in the printing plant following the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization of its then-owner Tribune Co., which ended in a 2012 agreement with creditors that spun off Tribune’s real estate holdings into a separate company.
Harridge acquired the Olympic plant from that company in 2016 and was expected to redevelop the property.
Harridge retains a minority ownership in the complex, which has about 660,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution space with about 15 acres of open space used primarily for parking and truck loading. It also has offices and a train dock for unloading shipments of newsprint.
The Times’ lease expires at the end of 2023, according to real estate data provider CoStar. Plans for printing the paper after that date are unclear, but owner Patrick Soon-Shiong owns buildings in El Segundo, including an office building on Imperial Highway where he moved The Times editorial and business operations last year.
A representative for The Times declined to comment on company plans to print the paper in the years ahead.
The Times also prints editions of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal at the Olympic Plant under contracts with those news organizations.
Officials of Atlas declined to talk, and Harridge did not respond to requests for comment about the sale or about their plans for the Olympic plant, which has been considered for numerous development options in recent years.
Clippers owner Steve Ballmer pondered turning the site into a basketball arena, but is now focused on building a $1-billion complex in Inglewood across the street from a stadium that will be the home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers beginning in 2020.
Other uses considered for the Olympic plant site include residences, stores and so-called creative offices that are often fashioned from former industrial buildings.
Such offices have become especially popular in the Arts District, where companies such as Warner Music, music streaming service Spotify and online coupon firm Honey have staked out new digs. Exclusive private club Soho Warehouse recently opened on Santa Fe Avenue not far from the printing plant.
Tenants in creative fields “are oftentimes skipping over the downtown financial district and going straight to the Arts District,” said real estate broker Brittany Winn of Cushman & Wakefield, who was not involved in the sale. “The problem is, there is a limited supply of the cool, creative buildings they are looking for.”