By Tom Moutes, RLACEI Legislative Director
As LACERS moves into its new building at 977 N. Broadway, here is a retrospective of its various headquarters buildings.
Decades ago, LACERS was housed in City Hall South. The City, needing more office space, asked LACERS to move out. I’m not sure if LACERS had any other headquarters before moving to the Brunswig Building at 360 E. Second St., but it was located at that address for decades.
Over the years, we discussed many options for a permanent headquarters building for LACERS. The proposals included purchasing the Brunswig Building; purchasing various small buildings proximate to City Hall; integrating into what is now Blossom Plaza in Chinatown; building a structure east of the Chinatown “L” line (formerly the Gold line) or at Union Station; and purchasing part of the Los Angeles Times complex. The City also tried time and time again to have LACERS purchase Figueroa Plaza from the City. With Figueroa Plaza’s lack of proximity to City Hall and terrible parking situation, there was no way LACERS was going to purchase it! When none of those options came to fruition, LACERS had to decide what to do with its expiring lease at the Brunswig Building.
While negotiating a lease extension, LACERS became aware of space for lease at the Los Angeles Times complex. At first, LACERS just wanted to use the availability at the Times building as leverage to negotiate an extension to our existing lease, but the more LACERS looked at the Times building, the more it made sense to move there and take advantage of a below-market-rate lease we were being offered.
When LACERS took the Times lease proposal to its Board for approval, the City Administrative Officer (CAO) made an impassioned plea to our Board to not adopt the staff recommendation, but instead become partners in the new building the City was planning to build at the old Parker Center site. Ultimately, the LACERS Board agreed to the lease at the Times complex, which was a good thing as that was many years ago and the new City building never has been built! The City was interested in having its pension funds pay for the building. I was LACERS’ General Manager at the time; I told the City that the only way we could have that conversation was if the City would agree to long-term leases at market rates. That was the last I heard of that proposal!
LACERS was the first outside entity to lease space at the Times complex, and it was an improvement over the Brunswig Building. However, LACERS continued to look for a permanent location, including the possibility of purchasing a skyscraper in the downtown area and leasing most of the building to other tenants.
Fairly recently, LACERS purchased and renovated the building at 977 N. Broadway. While I’m sure there will be some limitations to the new headquarters, as there were with all of the buildings and sites LACERS considered over the years, I’m sure there will be some great features, too. It is great to see LACERS finally have its own building, and I look forward to visiting it soon! It has been a long journey to get to this point.