Village at USC Approved
Los Angeles City Council passes mixed-use development that will create a new center for student and community life in South Los Angeles
The Village at USC, an ambitious retail and student housing project that will change the face of the university and of South Los Angeles, won approval from the Los Angeles City Council today.
The unanimous vote clears the way for USC to redevelop large parcels of university-owned land over at least the next 20 years. The council’s approval of the Specific Plan gives the university permission to build on its land north and east of campus within the criteria specified in the plan.
By far the biggest project is the redevelopment of University Village, currently a small and dated shopping center across from campus on Jefferson Boulevard. The new Village at USC will create a town square for the university and the community, with more than 2 million square feet of community-serving retail, student housing, hotel and academic space.
Most importantly for neighbors and students, the Village will feature a full-service grocery store, many shops and restaurants, and up to 3,000 new student housing beds, which are expected to relieve pressure on rental units in the surrounding area.
University planners estimate the Village will return $1.1 billion in economic impact while freeing up 900 housing units currently occupied by students.
“Not only will the Village at USC profoundly enrich our University Park Campus, it will be a tremendous boon for our surrounding neighborhoods, and for all of Los Angeles,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias.
The project and related construction in the university’s Specific Plan area are expected to create 12,000 jobs — 8,000 of them permanent — from a university that is already the largest private employer in Los Angeles.
The project does not rely on any public land, public subsidies or public funds.
“As someone who remembers South Los Angeles when it was thriving economically, I am enormously proud to be part of a university that will bring thousands of good jobs, badly needed shops and restaurants, and a new center of community life to our neighborhood,” said Thomas S. Sayles, senior vice president for University Relations.
As part of its long-standing commitment to the community, USC plans to fill at least 30 percent of the jobs locally, with at least 10 percent going to members of disadvantaged groups.
The long list of community benefits also includes an affordable housing fund; funding for job training and job placement services for local residents; support for local small businesses; relocation assistance for qualifying existing University Village businesses; mechanisms for bringing existing businesses back to the new Village project once completed; a 15 percent local procurement goal; and funding for parks and community gardens.
Planning for the project began in 2009 after university leaders adopted a new master plan and began discussing options for the University Village property.
The original plan envisioned separate blocks of retail, undergraduate housing and graduate housing on adjacent parcels. But after touring attractive mixed-use developments, such as Santana Row in San Jose, Calif., the university’s real estate development team suggested combining the three projects into one.
As plans firmed up, USC’s Civic Engagement representatives held more than 300 meetings at local churches, schools and nonprofit organizations, in addition to passing out and mailing thousands of brochures and postcards describing the project.
A public phase of hearings and open houses began last October and continued through the public comment period of today’s City Council session. More than 500 community supporters attended at least one hearing and voiced their approval of the project.
Many supporters credited the university’s long history of community engagement for its success in passing the kind of bold development project that could have attracted controversy and animosity in other locations.
USC invests $32 million annually in dozens of community programs, including the flagship USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative, an intensive college-preparation program that last year sent 54 graduates to four-year colleges, including USC, Harvard University and West Point.
In addition, the university is recognized nationally for its long record of community outreach, which helped it to earn Time magazine’s College of the Year distinction in 2000.
Contact: USC Media Relations at (213) 219-6347 or (213) 740-2215 or email@example.com