The Village at USC means changes in South LA

The Los Angeles City Council’s 15-0 vote on Tuesday to approve the University of Southern California’s proposed renovation and expansion of The Village at USC on the northern side of the University Park campus came after years of negotiations between USC and community groups. Below is a joint statement issued by USC, UNIDAD Coalition (United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement, which includes: Community Development Technologies Center (“CDTech”); Esperanza Community Housing Corporation; Tenemos que Reclamar y Unidos Salvar La Tierra-South LA (“T.R.U.S.T. South LA”); Playa Vista Job Opportunities and Business Services (“PV JOBS”); Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (“SAJE”); St. Francis Center; United University Church; Blazers Youth Services Community Club; and St. Agnes Church; and the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.


USC and the UNIDAD Coalition are proud to announce the following community benefits that will be included as part of the Development Agreement for USC’s Specific Plan.

In connection with its 20 year development plan and consistent with USC’s longstanding commitment to civic engagement, USC has agreed to provide $15-20 million in affordable housing funds for use in the neighborhoods surrounding the University Park Campus; create a legal clinic within the USC Gould School of Law that provides assistance to tenants currently living in surrounding neighborhoods; and construct 4,038 net new student beds on campus. USC has further committed to: local (30%) and disadvantaged (10%) hiring for the thousands of both permanent and construction jobs created by the project, most of which are union or meet or exceed the City’s Living Wage Ordinance; funding for job training and job placement services for local residents; business assistance for up to 40 local small businesses; relocation assistance for qualifying existing University Village businesses; mechanisms for bringing existing businesses back to the new University Village project once constructed; a 15% local procurement goal; and funding for parks and community gardens. In addition, the UNIDAD Coalition and USC have established an Economic Development Coordinating Council – a collaborative effort to create a job training and placement pipeline for South Los Angeles residents. This coordinating council will also bring together services to strengthen and develop new small businesses along the corridors surrounding the University Park Campus in South Los Angeles.

USC, the UNIDAD Coalition, and other community stakeholders have engaged in an ongoing dialogue in the spirit of establishing benefits that improve the quality of life for residents and University students, in and around South Los Angeles. A collaborative public process has played a key role in bringing about these community benefits that will provide critical investments in the local community. USC appreciates the value everyone brought to and will continue to bring to neighborhood revitalization efforts, including the UNIDAD Coalition, faith leaders, parents of students in USC’s Family of Schools, and local community and business organizations, and are hopeful this effort will create pathways for future collaborations that are fundamental to the creation of a healthy South Los Angeles.

The Village at USC: The Largest Private Investment in the History of South Los Angeles

About 30 community leaders gathered last Thursday evening at Exposition Park to see USC’s Master Plan for The Village at USC (District 3), which promises new jobs, more housing, and new services for students and the community.


District 3 currently encompasses the University Village along Jefferson and Hoover, and the Cardinal Gardens and Century student housing. Kristina Raspe, USC-Vice President for Real Estate and Asset Management, presented the floor plans for the Village and discussed how the new development would impact the community.

The new Village, which is set to start construction in May 2013, will take 6 to 10 years to complete. It requires three million square feet of redevelopment and will be completely funded by the university. Developers estimate that once completed the University at USC will bring in $1.7 million in revenue to the City of Los Angeles.


According to Raspe, USC’s focus is to make the Village as permeable as possible to not only students, but to locals as well. The Village will include a hotel and conference center, a large town square, lots of green space, and wide walkways for easy accessibility. The university plans to use these areas for entertainment, farmers markets, and many other community events.

The ground floor of the Village will include retail, grocery stores, restaurants, and other services. “The restaurants won’t be high-end restaurants, but sit-down restaurants like Chili’s and California Pizza Kitchen,” said Raspe.

In addition to budget friendly restaurants, the university wants to bring in retailers, like H&M and Trader Joe’s, that “have not naturally come to this neighborhood,” said Raspe.


“The big bang is 12,000 new jobs,” said Raspe. “We are really proud of the number of jobs we are able to create.” Raspe estimates that the project will help create 8,000 construction related jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs. The USC Local Hiring Initiative will ensure that about 30% of those jobs will go to the residents of South Los Angeles.

The upper floors of the Village will be dedicated to student housing. Currently, USC students live in the neighborhoods surrounding USC, which has displaced many of the locals out of the area. USC plans to provide housing for nearly 5,200 students and 250 faculty/student family apartments. The new housing will return more than 900 housing units that were previously occupied by students to the community.

Overall, the project’s goal is to partner with the surrounding neighborhoods to create a safe and vibrant place for the entire community. “We want to strengthen those roots with South LA,” said David Galaviz, Executive Director for USC Local Government Relations. “We are definitely open to suggestions.”



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