Tronc Tower? LA Times may move to downtown skyscraper*

aon-center-from-wgc-kr.jpgThe AON Center on the downtown skyline last month. LA Observed photo.

The Los Angeles Times has a deal to leave its Art Deco home (since 1935) at 1st and Spring streets in Civic Center and move across downtown to the 62-story Aon Center, according to the Urbanize LA website, which cites unnamed "multiple sources with knowledge of the situation." The lease for an unknown number of floors was finalized in May, the website says, and includes naming rights — though it's not said whether the building would be named for the Times or its corporate parent Tronc. (The Real Deal says the lease is for 100,000 to 150,000 square feet of office space.)

* Update: Times spokeswoman Hillary Manning tells me tonight the paper has not signed any lease to move. The current lease at the Times building runs until June 2018 "with options to continue beyond that date," Manning said. "We are currently researching our options for the future, which include remaining in the building or selecting a new location."

The Times is already a renter in the former home of the Chandler family media empire and is increasingly a smaller presence in what used to be called Times Mirror Square. The entire editorial staff fits now on two floors — two and three — and a move out was not unexpected, even though the Times had options to renew its lease and stay.

first-interstate-tower-fire.jpgNewsroom staffers might have wished to stay closer to City Hall, the courts and police headquarters, and for a more interesting destination. Aon Center, in downtown's financial district, is the Charles Luckman-designed tower at 707 Wilshire Boulevard that was the tallest in Los Angeles when finished in 1973. First Interstate Tower, its name then, was very nearly lost in a 1988 fire that forced the hurried retrofitting of older skyscrapers with fire sprinklers. The fire involved floors 12 through 16. The fire broke out at night and developed on live TV as people across downtown gathered on the street to watch. One person died, at least a couple of dozen were injured and eight people were evacuated from the roof by helicopter. "The largest high-rise fire in LAFD history continues to provide valuable lessons to urban and suburban firefighters throughout the country," a recent analysis concluded.

It's not the hottest property downtown. "One of the crappiest buildings in DTLA," says downtown activist Brady Westwater in the Urbanize LA comments. Aon Center was the tallest building on Wilshire Boulevard until last month's debut of the Wilshire Grand Center.

Regarding the 1935 Times building that the newspaper would be leaving, designed by Gordon B. Kaufmann — it is not landmarked by the city as historic. Nor are the Hugo Ballin murals in the Globe Lobby. The latest development plans call for saving and rehabbing the Times building itself but razing a 1973 William Pereira-designed addition and building a 37-story tower and a 53-story tower.

Here's some background on the Times buildings from last year.

latimes-buildings-from-city.jpgLA Times headquarters from City Hall. LA Observed file photo.

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