Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong — soon to be the new owner of the newspaper — announced the Los Angeles times will move from its downtown Los Angeles headquarters to a campus under construction in El Segundo. The Times’ lease for its newsroom and business administration expires June 30.
The previous owners of The Times sold the downtown building where the newspaper has operated since 1935 to Onni Group (a Canadian developer). Soon-Shiong said Onni demanded a $1-million-a-month rent increase to keep the paper’s staff at the building across from City Hall.
Los Angeles is one of the nation’s largest cities. For decades this regional powerhouse has represented a certain point of view in the public mind. People think of L.A. and immediately envision palm trees, starlets and sun-drenched streets filled with promise in every storefront. Those who pay close attention to Southern California may be wondering if the status quo is about to change. In a move that indicates shifting times, the publisher of the vaunted Los Angeles Times has announced his intention to move the newspaper to El Segundo.
The Richest Man in Los Angeles
Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is a man of many achievements. A native of South Africa, he completed surgical training at UCLA. During the last several decades the doctor has enjoyed a great deal of fiscal and professional success. As the founder of several enormously successful biotech firms, he has amassed a billion dollar fortune. His work has provided impressive medical developments including groundbreaking work for chronic diseases such as diabetes. His efforts have also created entirely new ways of treating cancer patients, offering hope to those who might otherwise face a bleak future. With such passion and the ability to create real change, it is no surprise that he’s earned a great deal of acclaim both on Wall Street and by his fellow medical professionals. His fortune has also allowed him to invest in projects that appeal to him personally.
Buying the Times
Founded in 1881, the Los Angeles Times is one of the nation’s oldest newspapers. It’s also one of the nation’s most widely read. With daily circulation of roughly six hundred thousand people, the Times has long been a firmly established Southern California institution. Given that Dr. Soon-Shiong began his career as a paperboy, it is perhaps hardly unusual that he chose to invest in such a high profile media property. What caught many observers unaware was the doctor’s decision to purchase the paper outright in February. The job of Los Angeles Times publisher is an important one in this area. Any publisher enjoys the opportunity to speak directly to the public each day. For over a decade that job had been held by the Chicago based Tribune Co. Such long-distance ownership occasionally led readers and staffers to wonder if the paper’s audience would be better served by a locally based company. Not anymore.
New Building Owners Ask for Higher Rent
While the decision to buy The Times was unexpected, Dr. Soon-Shiong has announced another change for the paper. He’s going to move it from downtown Los Angeles to downtown El Segundo. The Los Angeles Times has housed in a historic Los Angeles building since 1935. After the was sold to new ownership in 2000, the new owners sold the original structure two years later. Dr. Soon-Shiong already owns property in El Segundo. He told reporters that Onni, the new corporate owners of the original building, were demanding a monthly million dollar rent. In his opinion, it would be better to spend such funds instead on creating more resources that enable reporters to do their job more efficiently and serve the needs of the community in the process.
Decades to Come
The doctor was very enthusiastic as he spoke to staffers about the new move. In his opinion, heading to El Segundo enables the company to create not only a place to do business but an entire campus. He believes that the new move will create a base that is there, “for the next 100 years.” The new space is located on four and a half acres. The large property not only allows for the expansion of the original building. It also allows for the creation of additional space as the paper continues to grow. The existing building is being revamped. There are plans to reconfigure it in order to better serve the needs of the paper’s staffers. Dr. Soon-Shiong has plans for a cafeteria, at least one retail shop and multimedia studios. He also intends to put in a museum gallery and event spaces that will allow the paper to reach out to local residents and help keep them even more informed about local and national events.
Excitement in El Segundo
This new development is understandably one that is being greeted with a great deal of excitement in El Segundo. Residents of the city are pleased with the possibility of new area economic growth. Given Dr. Soon-Shiong’s enviable economic track record and his devotion to the sciences, many are hopeful that he can apply the same vibrant vision and sense of energy to this small city. The city’s easy proximity to many important Los Angeles destinations such as the seaside and busy airport has made visible to many residents and commuters alike. However, many residents are also aware that the town has often been overlooked even by those in neighboring communities. Many area residents may not be aware that the city actually has a thriving residential community with lots of shopping and plenty of desirable housing.
The decision to move the paper to El Segundo should help draw attention here. As one of the world’s leading media outlets, the Los Angeles Times has a commanding and visible presence not only in Southern California but in much of the rest of the United States as well. The new move here will focus national and international interest in El Segundo. The paper’s employees will add new energy to the town and help push it forward even further. Staffers with a finely honed grasp of language and an ability to showcase the world around them are expected to offer something important to El Segundo. The new campus will also provide many opportunities to local residents. Journalism students can look forward to the opportunity to witness a world-class newspaper in action directly. Other members of the El Segundo community will also benefit from this economic activity as they too watch our community continue to march forward.