LOS ANGELES (CN) – A portion of the Art Deco former headquarters of the Los Angeles Times inched closer to receiving cultural-historic landmark status, but city officials decided Tuesday that designation would not extend to an addition built in the 1970s.
The planned demolition of the building would make way for housing units and the rest of the site will be updated to include shops, restaurants, and a grocery store, according to the developers who now own the site.
The Times Mirror Square, a three-building complex in downtown LA, encompasses several decades of architectural periods with the first – an Art Deco building designed by famed architect Gordon Kaufman – built in 1935.
The more modern addition, designed by architect William Pereira, arrived on the site in 1973. Preservationists describe the Pereira addition as forward-thinking for the era, with some calling the building a Brutalist expression next to the former Art Deco newspaper headquarters.
Preservationists including cultural historian Richard Schave applied for landmark status and aimed to preserve the entire site. Canadian real estate developer Onni asked city officials to peel off the Pereira building from the application so it can demolish the building to make way for about 1,100 apartment units.
At Tuesday’s planning and land use meeting, the developers received that split as the Pereira building was weighed against the need for more housing units in downtown Los Angeles and the union jobs that would be generated from construction.
Schave said he was shocked at the decision to alter his application and give only partial landmark status to the site.
“I’ve never seen that type of action before,” said Schave. “It’s really a shock. But it’s not a total loss. Nothing is ever a total loss.”
The LA Times moved out of the downtown building this past summer as their previous Chicago-based owners sold the building to Onni.
City planners said in their report on the site that it was considered historically relevant because of its connection to the Chandler family, the former owners of the Times. The family played a defining role in the newspaper’s history and influenced LA’s cultural landscape as philanthropists.
The report highlighted the Kaufman building and a tower designed by architect Rowland Crawford, which has been described as late Art Deco, but the Pereira building’s significance was downplayed.
Harry Chandler, grandson of the former publisher of the LA Times who shares the same name, said he was disappointed on the city’s move to omit the Pereira building.
“The history my family initiated there could not be replaced, and the history to the city that the events that happened in those three buildings could also not be replaced,” said Chandler after the committee meeting.
“You never know what happens when developers and City Hall get together,” said Chandler. “Once again, the developer has won and the citizens have not.”
The application for the landmark status next goes to the full City Council for final approval.