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Construction starts on new office space and food hall at former L.A. Times plant in Costa Mesa

Construction starts on new office space and food hall at former L.A. Times plant in Costa Mesa
A rendering shows a portion of the Press, a mixed-use project that will develop new office space and a food hall on the former Los Angeles Times site in Costa Mesa. (Courtesy of SteelWave)

It’s been years since the presses stopped for good at the former Los Angeles Times newsroom and printing plant in Costa Mesa, but the site is stirring again with the start of construction on the Press — an office, retail and dining development that officials say will ideally position the property for the future while paying homage to its past.

The venture from SteelWave and Invesco Real Estate will transform the site at 1375 Sunflower Ave. into a modern campus with 380,856 square feet of anticipated creative office space.

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The $200-million-plus project also includes about 52,000 square feet for retail and food uses that will be developed in collaboration with Costa Mesa-based Lab Holding LLC, the firm behind projects such as the Camp and the Lab commercial centers on Bristol Street and the Anaheim Packing District, a food hall and marketplace.

“The Press is a truly one-of-a-kind offering in one of the most exciting areas of Orange County,” SteelWave managing director Seth Hiromura said in a statement. “This property embraces its history but also responds to what today’s modern user desires in office space. We are especially excited about our collaboration with Lab Holding, as they have proven to be forward-thinking and successful in developing what the market wants. We look forward to bringing the Press back to life.”

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Lab Holding founder Shaheen Sadeghi said in an interview that he thinks the project will represent “the next generation of food halls” and mesh perfectly with the accompanying office uses. This partnership was attractive, he said, because of the “size and the scope of the project, our interest in the historic aspects of the building and the fact it was in Costa Mesa — in our own backyard.”

“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” he added.

The goal is for the Press to be ready for office tenants by the first quarter of 2020. Sadeghi said the food hall/retail space would likely follow a few months after that and could potentially accommodate 60 to 70 vendors.

The former Los Angeles Times building at 1375 Sunflower Ave. in Costa Mesa — pictured in 2016 — opened in 1968 and closed in 2014.
The former Los Angeles Times building at 1375 Sunflower Ave. in Costa Mesa — pictured in 2016 — opened in 1968 and closed in 2014. (File Photo)

The project will retain certain industrial elements of the existing property, notably its “canopies and monolithic concrete walls, the steel frames and the machine rooms,” according to a news release. But some of its defining design characteristics will be its embrace of natural light and views through extensive use of glass and features that seek to marry the indoors and outdoors, such as an open-air atrium.

Other planned amenities include a 1-acre park with a Zen garden, two open-air cafes and campus-wide Wi-Fi.

“Costa Mesa is becoming the hub of the creative workforce in Orange County, and the Press will finally offer companies the ability to work in a historical creative atmosphere with unparalleled retail amenities that cater to today’s generation,” Jay Nugent, a senior managing director with Newmark Knight Frank and one of the people handling pre-leasing for the property, said in a statement. “This project is far and away the most exciting mixed-use development in Orange County in a long time.”

SteelWave, working with Invesco, acquired the Press site and an adjacent parcel at 3370 Harbor Blvd. from Tribune Real Estate Holdings and Kearny Real Estate Co. in 2017 for a reported $65 million.

Tribune Real Estate is a subsidiary of Tribune Media Co., former owner of The Times.

Tribune spun off its newspapers into a separate entity, Tribune Publishing, in 2014. The latter company — known for a time as Tronc — sold The Times to biotech billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong last year in a deal that also included the San Diego Union-Tribune and community newspapers including the Daily Pilot.

Times and Daily Pilot staff officially left the Sunflower Avenue plant in October 2014. The Pilot is now based in an office building on Talbert Avenue in Fountain Valley.

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