The Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee has voted against designating the entirety of Times Mirror Square as a Historic-Cultural Monument, clearing the way for a proposed development at the site.

Onni Group, a Vancouver-based real estate developer, purchased the former Los Angeles Times headquarters for $120 million in 2016. Later that year, the company filed plans to redevelop the western half of the site – fronting Broadway between 1st and 2nd Streets – with two AC Martin-designed apartment towers containing 1,127 residential units. 

Onni’s proposal also calls for refurbishing the historic Los Angeles Times and Mirror Buildings along Spring Street – which are empty following the newspaper’s relocation to El Segundo - as 285,000 square feet of office space lined by ground-floor retail, with a pedestrian paseo separating the old and new construction. 

A significant hurdle for the project emerged earlier this year, when local preservationist Richard Schave nominated the entire Times Mirror Square complex as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM).  While Onni's project would retain the two oldest structures - buildings from the 1930s and 1940s designed by Rowland Crawford and Gordan Kaufmann - the monument nomination also included the William Pereira-designed Times-Mirror Headquarters at 1st and Broadway, which was added to the property in the 1970s. 

Though a staff report to the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission did not find that the Pereira building met the criteria for the city’s Historic-Cultural ordinance, the Commission nonetheless voted of the designation for the entire property in September.

During public comment, a planning deputy for Councilmember Jose Huizar, who represents the Downtown area, told the PLUM Committee that the Councilmember supported HCM status for the Crawford- and Kaufmann-designed structures, but opposed the designation for the Pereira addition.  Committee members - including Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Gil Cedillo, and Mitch Englander - agreed with that position, and voted to recommend monument status for the two older structures.

The monument application is still subject to the approval of the full City Council, as is Onni's proposed redevelopment of the site.

The debate over Times Mirror Square represents the second conflict between development and preservationist in the Civic Center in the last two years.  In 2017, the City Council denied HCM status to Parker Center, the ex-headquarters of the Los Angeles Police Department, in large part due to its divisive history.  The eight-story building is currently being demolished and is slated to be replaced by a city office tower.