LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Times this summer will move from its historic headquarters in downtown Los Angeles to a campus currently under construction in El Segundo.
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong -- soon to be the new owner of the newspaper -- broke the news Friday during his first meeting with the staff, explaining that he wants to create a newsroom for the future. The quick move is necessitated because previous owners of The Times had sold the iconic building where newspaper has operated since 1935 to a Canadian developer.
The Times' lease for its newsroom and business administrative space expires June 30. Soon-Shiong said the current landlord has demanded a $1-million-a-month rent increase to keep the paper's staff at the building across from City Hall.
"There's not much time for me to find accommodation for 800 people," he told more than 300 employees who jammed into the Chandler Auditorium in the Times building to get their first glimpse of Soon-Shiong. "We decided that we needed to create the most modern newsroom ... one that respects the work and the lifestyle of the people who work in the newsroom.
"We need to build a campus that is there for the next 100 years, not to lease a building," he said.
There were audible gasps in the auditorium when Soon-Shiong announced the move. Some staff members have worked decades at the worn facility, and were stunned to learn that they would leave their longtime home. And for many, their commutes would grow.
But instead of spending an extra $12 million a year on rent, Soon-Shiong said he wants to invest in hiring more journalists, improving technology in the newsroom and fashioning a modern campus with amenities. The new campus would include an eight-floor building with 120,000 square feet of space. A museum of The Times' 136-year history would be housed on the first floor, along with event and retail space. Soon-Shiong's wife, Michele, is leading the design of the space, and he made several references to her interest in the Times' noted test kitchen.
Soon-Shiong owns several properties in El Segundo, including one that houses the Chan Soon-Shiong Institute for Medicine, a center that offers diagnostics and personalized treatment for cancer patients.
The Times will also keep offices downtown, perhaps at its Olympic Boulevard printing plant.
Soon-Shiong is in the process of finalizing his $500-million purchase of The Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune from Chicago newspaper company Tronc. The deal, first announced on Feb. 7, will return The Times to local ownership after 18 years under control by entities based in Chicago. The sale is expected to be finalized later this month.