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Prominent LA Times Complex Downtown Could Sell to Developer

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Sleek new offices and retail might be on the way

Vancouver-based Onni Group is in the process of buying the home base of the Los Angeles Times, and the newspaper reports that if the deal goes through, the Canadian developer is looking to redo the prominent downtown site with "modern offices" and retail.

Times Mirror Square is made up of a handful of structures totaling about 750,000 square feet, including the big Art Deco building emblazoned with newspaper's name. The structures date back to anywhere from the 1930s to the '70s. While they interlink, they do not do so in a way where "large areas with no natural lighting" inside the complex, a 2008 Times article noted.

The site has been the headquarters of the LA Times since the 1930s. In another 2008 story, the newspaper said there was a time when its presence downtown "was a symbol of the possibilities of a burgeoning city."

When the first piece of the Los Angeles Times' headquarters, a Gordon B. Kaufmann-designed Art Moderne building, opened in 1935, the 1st and Spring streets location, cater-corner from City Hall, represented the power wielded by the newspaper and the Chandler family that owned it. Harry Chandler, then the president and general manager of Times-Mirror Co., declared the building a "monument to the progress of our city and Southern California."

It’s not totally clear if the newspaper would stay put if ownership of the complex changes hands, though it does have a lease until 2018 with two options to extend for five years, a source tells the Times.

Tribune Media entered the deal to sell Times Mirror Square in early May. But the sale could still fall, as a previous deal to sell the site did earlier this year, the company notes in a quarterly earnings statement. The statement also revealed that Tribune Media has a potential buyer for its Arts District property that houses its printing plant, though neither the statement nor the Times article names the potential purchaser of that property.

It’s not known what Onni will pay for the Civic Center property, but at least one expert has put the Square’s value at upwards of $100 million. Onni Group has multiple tall projects in the works throughout Downtown right now, including a 50-story tower on Eighth and Olive in South Park and a pair of mixed-use towers further south.