City Council Approves "Truly Transformative" Development for USC

The plan, which includes redevelopment of University Village, will be the largest-ever economic development in South Los Angeles

By Melissa Pamer
|  Tuesday, Dec 11, 2012  |  Updated 10:20 PM PDT
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USC won Los Angeles City Council's approval Tuesday for a $1.1 billion development that will remake the blocks north and east of campus into a retail-residential complex. The university will now seek permits to begin construction on the project. Conan Nolan reports from Exposition Park for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2012.

Conan Nolan

USC won Los Angeles City Council's approval Tuesday for a $1.1 billion development that will remake the blocks north and east of campus into a retail-residential complex. The university will now seek permits to begin construction on the project. Conan Nolan reports from Exposition Park for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2012.

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After initial neighborhood opposition, USC won Los Angeles City Council approval Tuesday for a $1.1 billion development that will remake the blocks north and east of campus into a retail-residential complex that has "long been needed," according to the university.

The unanimous vote came after groups in the surrounding South Los Angeles community voiced support for the project, which was first discussed in 2009.

A representative from the private university southwest of downtown LA said the development will be "truly transformative" for the area.

"At first we had somewhat differing points of view, but the beauty of this process is that we all came together," USC Senior Vice President for University Relations Thomas Sayles said.

Planned for completion in 2030, the project would in part replace the aging University Village shopping complex with a 5-million-square-foot mix of shops, restaurants, students housing and classroom space.
Important to students and area residents, a full-service grocery store is part of the plan.

Twelve acres of open space are also part of the plan, as are an eventual hotel and conference center.

Housing for 3,000 students is part of the project, an aspect of the plan that USC said would reduce demand for rental units in the community surrounding the around Hoover Street and Jefferson Boulevard (map).

The project, designed to match the "Italian Romanesque" style of USC's main University Park campus, will be the largest economic development in South Los Angeles history.

"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 in a press release.

Neighborhood supporters of USC packed council chambers and gave a standing ovation after the council vote was taken.

The project was touted as a major facelift for the community, but that support had come only after the University of Southern California boosted its in initial pledge to spend $2 million on affordable housing into a $27 million package of benefits for South LA.

"What's happened at this point is that the university has listened to the concerns of the local community and has addressed them," said Paulina Gonzalez of Strategic Action for a Just Economy.

The deal, negotiated in part by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office and the offices of three City Council members whose districts are affected, requires the university to spend $20 million toward affordable housing over 20 years.

Councilwoman Jan Perry said she was glad that the plan outlines a clear path for USC. She called initial debate over the plan "rancorous."

“For many years the university was growing and expanding and there was no public plan in place. Now today that changes,” said Perry, whose district includes USC.

USC said the project will create 12,000 jobs – 4,000 for construction and 8,000 permanent jobs.

The city's largest private employer, USC promises to fill at least 30 percent of new jobs created with local residents, with 10 percent going to members of disadvantaged groups.

The council vote in part gives USC the go-ahead for the "Village at USC," a redevelopment that affects university-owned land. No public land or money is involved in the project, USC said.

The project is part of USC's larger master plan, which was approved by the university's board in 2008.


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