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Variety to move offices to landmark high-rise

June 06, 2008|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

Variety, a venerable trade publication for the entertainment business, agreed Thursday to move its offices a few blocks down Wilshire Boulevard to a high-rise across from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that will be renamed the Variety Building.

"After 20 years at our current location, we need more space" for the publication, said Michael Speier, executive editor of news at Variety.

The daily newspaper and parent company Reed Business Information should move to their new quarters by year-end, said Wayne Ratkovich, president of Ratkovich Co., owner of the 30-story tower at 5900 Wilshire Blvd.

Variety and Reed's other publications will rent 55,000 square feet on the top three floors and elsewhere in the building in a deal valued at $11.6 million, Ratkovich said.

Reed will have about 10,000 fewer square feet in the new building than it has at Wilshire Courtyard, but it will dedicate more space to news operations and combine scattered offices, said Neil Stiles, president of the Los Angeles division of Reed.

The lease marks a comeback for a building designed by noted Los Angeles architect William Pereira and completed in 1971 that had fallen from favor in recent years. When Ratkovich bought the building for $102.5 million in December 2005, he said, it was in need of maintenance.

"It took five minutes to get an elevator," Ratkovich said. "There was no hot water and no heat. People had to wear their coats indoors in the winter, and it leaked when it rained."

It was also almost half-empty, he added. Ratkovich said he had spent the last two years and $34 million overhauling the building's systems and remaking the lobby and other public spaces to attract new tenants while raising rents.

Ratkovich hired the architecture firm that took over Pereira's business after his death in 1985, L.A.-based Johnson Fain, to come up with a plan to improve the building's appearance while staying true to its mid-century modern design.

The tower is across Wilshire Boulevard from the entrance to the museum, which was also first designed by Pereira. The architect was known for his futuristic, Space Age designs, which included the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, CBS Television City in Los Angeles and the master plan for the city of Irvine.

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roger.vincent@latimes.com

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