More details on mixed use plan for LA Times buildings

latimes-buildings-from-city.jpgThe 1935 LA Times building is in the foreground, at 1st and Spring. To the rear left, at 2nd and Spring, is the 1948 Mirror building. The 1970s Times Mirror wing, at 1st and Broadway, is what would be demolished. Photo: LA Observed.

The pending sale of the Los Angeles Times headquarters at 1st and Spring streets is for about $120 million, the Los Angeles Business Journal reports. The new owner, Canada's Onni Group, intends to demolish the newest and least historically interesting of the major buildings on the site and build residences, the LABJ says based on "sources familiar with its plan." That is the 1970s building on the corner of 1st and Broadway that housed the corporate headquarters of Times Mirror before the LAT's parent company was swallowed up by Tribune around 2000. A Bank of America branch is on the ground floor of this building, which was designed by architect William L. Pereira's firm.

The original six-story Times building at 1st and Spring, designed by architect Gordon B. Kaufmann and opened in 1935, would be redeveloped into commercial offices and retail, along with the 10-story, 1948 Rowland H. Crawford structure at the corner of 2nd and Spring that was known as the Mirror building. That name traces to when the building at 2nd Street was the home of the Los Angeles Mirror, before that evening newspaper was killed by the Times in January 1962. A couple of days later, the Hearst Corp. killed its morning paper in Los Angeles, the Examiner, and morphed its evening Herald-Express into the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. The Chandlers who owned the Times got the morning, and Hearst got the afternoon. The Her Ex lasted until 1989 and the Times is still going.

The 1st Street facade of the 1935 Times building includes limestone sculptures on a newspaper theme by Robert Merrell Gage. Inside the Times' Globe Lobby are 10-foot high murals by iconic LA muralist Hugo Ballin also portraying newspaper and Los Angeles history scenes. The Ballin murals were once covered by the Times, but were restored by the paper in 1990. I don't believe that any of the Times buildings or artwork are landmarked as city historical-cultural monuments.

From the LABJ story:

The deal marks the second time the Times building has gone to contract. A previous deal, for about $140 million, was struck in December but came undone about three months later, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Onni, the source said, intends to put up about $50 million in equity and is seeking financing for the balance.

Cobbled together over generations, the massive Times complex comprises a moderne-style structure along Spring Street built in 1935; an adjoining tower constructed in 1948; a brown, boxy building on the western side of the property completed in 1973; and an adjoining parking lot.

Hopes are high that if Onni closes the deal and proceeds with the redevelopment, the project at the tip of the reviving Historic Core would energize a full block in downtown’s Civic Center next to a future light-rail station.

“They’re going to reactivate it,” said Mark Tarczynski, an executive vice president at Colliers International in downtown who was not involved in the transaction. “It’s going to become a property that is restored to its former glory.”

Most of downtown’s striking historic buildings have already been picked up for redevelopment as apartments, hotels, or offices. But none can claim the historical significance of Times Mirror Square, as the property at 202 W. First St. is officially dubbed.

By the way, if they put retail in the ground floor of the Times building, it would be historically correct. There was a drug store on the ground floor in photos from the World War II era.

Here's my KCRW segment on the Times building from last Monday. The segments air on Mondays at 4:44 p.m.

More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent LAT stories on LA Observed:
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Here's who the LA Times has newly hired*
New seasons of SoCal Connected, Lost LA on KCET
LA Observed Notes: Times hiring binge, LA Weekly investor sues, media tidbits
LA Observed Notes: Editor moves, NYT steps on JGold turf, jobs and more
Jonathan Gold, LA's preeminent food writer, has died at 57