A proposal to redevelop a portion of the erstwhile home of the Los Angeles Times with two apartment towers is scheduled for its latest hurdle this week: the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.
Onni Group - the Canadian real estate development firm which purchased the Times Mirror Square complex in 2016 for $120 million - is seeking approvals to raze the western half of the property to make way for 37- and 53-story buildings containing 1,127 apartments and approximately 34,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
The eastern half of the site, developed with the historic Times and Mirror Buildings, will be restored and retained as offices for rent. Plans call for more than 300,000 square feet of leasable space on its upper floors and 70,000 square feet of street-fronting retail along Spring Street.
Parking for the full property would be located in a podium and basement garage below the new towers. Over 1,700 vehicle stalls are currently proposed.
The AC Martin-designed project would separate the new construction from the historic buildings with a pedestrian paseo cutting north-to-south between 1st and 2nd Streets. Commercial space would line both sides of the walkway.
As of late 2019, Onni Group anticipated breaking ground on the project in the fourth quarter of 2021 and completing construction by the fourth quarter of 2024.
The development has faced pushback from preservationists who object to plans to demolish a 1970s expansion of the complex which was designed by architect William Pereira. Although the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted to recommend designating the full property as a Historic-Cultural Monument, granting some protections against demolition, the City Council voted to only extend that status to the older Times and Mirror Buildings, which date to the 1930s and 1940s.
While preservationists have previously served as the project's chief opponent, Onni Group is now faced with a different sort of adversary. In addition to considering entitlements for the Onni Times Square development, including a transfer of floor area rights and a conditional use permit, the City Planning Commission will also vote on an appeal brought by SAFER, an organization affiliated with Laborers International Union of North America Local 270 (LIUNA).
The appeal argues that an environmental impact report conducted for the project overlooked issues including historic preservation, as well as potential impacts to biological resources (specifically birds colliding with glass windows), air quality, and traffic congestion.
A staff response rejects those arguments, and recommends that the Commission approve the project as presented.
Onni Group is one of two developers with plans to remake properties formerly controlled by the Los Angeles Times, which relocated its main offices to El Segundo in 2018. Across the street from the historic Times and Mirror buildings, Tribune Real Estate Holdings is planning to redevelop a former parking lot as a 56-story apartment tower. A new subway station is now being built adjacent to the property as part of Metro's Regional Connector project.
- Times Mirror Square (Urbanize LA)