The former Los Angeles Times printing plant in Costa Mesa is slated to be turned into Orange County’s largest creative-office redevelopment project to date.

L.A.-based real estate developer Kearny Real Estate Co. plans to turn the 24-acre site, located a few blocks north of the San Diego (I-405) Freeway at 1375 Sunflower Ave., into a creative-office campus targeted to large corporate tenants.

The first phase of the project will turn the main existing industrial property on the site into a three-story, open-air office running about 300,000 square feet.

The 50-foot-tall steel-frame building will be renovated to feature full-height glass panels, an expansive grid of skylights, and a large amount of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

The project also will include three acres of outdoor space featuring an amphitheater, yoga lawn, volleyball court and outdoor seating, among other amenities.

Construction could begin this fall, assuming the developer gets the necessary city approvals for the project.

Irvine-based architecture firm LPA is heading up the project’s design, while Snyder Langston of Irvine is the general contractor.

Kearny officials estimate the initial phase of redevelopment will cost in excess of $100 million.

Future phases of development on surrounding land, including an entrance along Harbor Boulevard, could push office development at the campus close to 700,000 square feet, according to Jeff Dritley, Kearny’s founder and managing partner.

The new project is being branded “The Press,” a nod to the property’s past role as home to the Times’ Orange County edition, which once had circulation of more than 300,000 on Sundays.

The building previously served as a printing plant, distribution center, newsroom and administrative office for the Times’ operations here but hasn’t been fully occupied in years.

The property, across the street from Costa Mesa’s Ikea shopping center, is “an authentic manufacturing building,” Dritley said. “There has yet to be a creative space redevelopment in Orange County that can match the unique attributes of this project.”

The naming of the project also is meant to allow new occupants to “write their own story,” Kearny officials said.

No Residential

The push toward a creative-office redevelopment marks a change in strategy for the site, one of several notable locations north of the 405 in Costa Mesa that developers have been eyeing for large-scale projects.

Kearny was selected as the development partner for the site last year by the property’s owner, Tribune Real Estate Holdings LLC, a subsidiary of Chicago-based Tribune Media Co.—the former owner of the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, among other daily newspapers.

A joint venture between Kearny and Tribune Real Estate was finalized last November.

Mixed-use options for the land, including apartment development, were initially considered.

The venture opted to focus on office uses after Costa Mesa officials pushed back against residential development on city land north of the 405 freeway, Dritley said.

“We listened to the majority of the (city) council,” he said.

The site’s proposed change in land use from industrial to offices will be taken up by Costa Mesa’s city council this year as part of a larger general plan update.

Large Occupants

The first phase of development at The Press is being targeted toward larger tenants seeking 100,000 square feet of space or more.

Potential tenants include technology companies, design firms, active-wear apparel companies, and device makers, according to Rob Lambert, director with the Irvine office of Cushman & Wakefield Inc. who is handling leasing for the project along with colleague Rick Kaplan.

The project “should appeal to any large corporate user that wants to attract and retain employees,” Lambert said.

The project also could be sold to a corporate user if there’s suitable interest, said Kearny’s Dritley.

The Press is the largest development project in OC to date for privately held Kearny, which focuses on Southern California.

Larger projects the company has worked on elsewhere include the Century Business Center, an 86-acre business park in Hawthorne that includes the headquarters of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

It owns one other OC property, Newport Corporate Plaza, a 20-acre office campus near John Wayne Airport that it acquired in 2014 for about $41.5 million.

The company is on the lookout for other area projects, particularly given the rising prices for property in L.A. of late, Dritley said.

“We listened to the majority of the (city) council,” he said.

The site’s proposed change in land use from industrial to offices will be taken up by Costa Mesa’s city council this year as part of a larger general plan update.

Large Occupants

The first phase of development at The Press is being targeted toward larger tenants seeking 100,000 square feet of space or more.

Potential tenants include technology companies, design firms, active-wear apparel companies, and device makers, according to Rob Lambert, director with the Irvine office of Cushman & Wakefield Inc. who is handling leasing for the project along with colleague Rick Kaplan.

The project “should appeal to any large corporate user that wants to attract and retain employees,” Lambert said.

The project also could be sold to a corporate user if there’s suitable interest, said Kearny’s Dritley.

The Press is the largest development project in OC to date for privately held Kearny, which focuses on Southern California.

Larger projects the company has worked on elsewhere include the Century Business Center, an 86-acre business park in Hawthorne that includes the headquarters of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

It owns one other OC property, Newport Corporate Plaza, a 20-acre office campus near John Wayne Airport that it acquired in 2014 for about $41.5 million.

The company is on the lookout for other area projects, particularly given the rising prices for property in L.A. of late, Dritley said. 

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