San Diego Union-Tribune Being Evicted From Downtown Building

December 8, 2023

The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper is being evicted from its downtown office building for failing to pay rent since September.

This past July, news broke that the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper had been sold for an undisclosed price for the sixth time in the last 15 years. Los Angeles Times owner, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, sold the San Diego Union-Tribune and the U-T Community Press newspapers, including the La Jolla Light, to "vulture capitalist" firm Alden Global Capital, the parent company of MediaNews Group, which runs around 200 publications. 

The acquisition by the paired NY investment firm and Denver-based media company took San Diego Union-Tribune completely out from any definition of "local" ownership. New ownership immediately announced looming cutbacks "necessary to offset the slowdown in revenues." Since Alden Capital's takeover of the U-T, many reporters and even the newspaper's longtime editor Jeff Light left the company by opting for severance packages.  

Now, the owner of the building at 600 B Street in downtown San Diego where the Union-Tribune has had its headquarters since 2018, Rockwood Capital LLC has filed an unlawful detainer complaint against the Union-Tribune for nearly $220,000 in back rent. With this eviction, the Union-Tribune will be without a home for the first time in its 155 year history.

 "Tenant has failed to pay Rent when due as required by the Lease," reads a letter from Rockwood Capital attached to the eviction complaint. "As of October 9, 2023, the current amount due to Landlord totals $218,950.70. This amount consists of Base Rent, Operating Expenses, and late charges for the period through and including October 2023, as set forth in the rent statement attached."

The San Diego Union-Tribune dates back to 1868. It was bought by Tribune Publishing in 2015 and sold along with the L.A. Times for $500 million to biotech billionaire, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, in 2018. Over the years, the Union-Tribune was sold to Platinum Equity in 2009, then to MLIM Holdings in 2011, followed by "Papa" Doug Manchester in 2012, then to Tribune Publishing, which later changed its name to Tronc, in 2015, and lastly to Soon-Shiong.

The Union-Tribune's headquarters was originally located in Old Town San Diego before being moved to downtown San Diego in 1871. In 1973, the company relocated to a custom-built, brick and stone office and printing plant complex in Mission Valley. After the U-T consolidated its printing with the LA Times in 2015, the newspaper moved back downtown to offices on the 9th through 12th floors of a tower at 600 B Street in May 2016. The Union-Tribune was the named tenant of the building, replacing Bridgepoint Education and, before that, Comerica.

MediaNews Group, which owns more than 100 newspapers across the country, has been criticized in journalism circles for cost-cutting methods that have included staff reductions in its papers' newsrooms. The company is the second largest newspaper publisher in the United States. The parent company's founder, Randy Duncan Smith, is known as a pioneer of vulture capitalism, the purchase and dismantling of distressed companies. MediaNews Group also owns Southern California News Group, which oversees papers like the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, and Riverside Press-Enterprise.