Construction begins on The Village

Among the 80 construction projects taking place at USC this year, one of the most visible is the demolition of the University Village on the north side of campus.

 Rising from the ashes· The USC Caruso Catholic center can be seen beyond the rubble of the old, demolished University Village.  - Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

Rising from the ashes· The USC Caruso Catholic center can be seen beyond the rubble of the old, demolished University Village. – Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

The billion-dollar USC Village project began in the first week of June with the demolition and fencing of the area where the 1.2 million-square-foot development will be constructed. The renovated USC Village, which will include approximately 2,600 beds for student housing, a full-service grocery store and 100,000 square feet of additional retail space, is expected to be completed in fall 2017.

A total of nine buildings will be constructed as part of the new Village. Building one will serve as a utility building and central plant, which will house the cooling tower for the entire Village. Buildings two and three, which are intended to become future student housing units, will serve as temporary green spaces. Building four will become the Honors Residential College, which will house approximately 500 beds exclusively for freshmen honors students. Building five, at the corner of McClintock Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard, will be used as temporary green space to be set aside for future academic use. Buildings six, seven and eight will be constructed as student housing built over retail space. Building nine, the largest building, will house 700 beds, as well as the grocery store portion of the retail and underground parking.

Willy Marsh, the building project manager for USC’s Capital Construction Development, said the construction of The Village is on schedule, and that students can expect to see the beginning floors of structures as early as June 2015.

“By June of next year, building four will have four of its five levels completed,” Marsh said. “Building nine will be at about second level. Buildings six, seven and eight, the three other dorms , will have multiple levels on construction.”

Though three of the nine projected buildings will be used as temporary green spaces, they are intended to be constructed for future student housing and academic purposes. The dates for when these spaces will begin construction, however, is yet to be determined.

The ground floor of all of the dorm buildings will be dedicated to retail space. Though most of the marketing and leasing for the retail portion won’t take place until next fall, USC Real Estate and Management said in interviews that they are actively reaching out to potential tenants to fill the grocery store and drug store portions of The Village.

“We’re two to three years away from securing the retail,” Marsh said. “We know we have Bank of America and Starbucks already secured.”

According to USC Real Estate and Management, Bank of America and Starbucks were the only tenants from the previous village that had leases extending years beyond the groundbreaking date. As a result, both companies agreed to lease space in the new development as part of negotiations to have them vacate the old village for construction.

The demolition of the previous UV displaced many local businesses, including Superior Grocers, Quik-Pix Photo & Digital Lab and 21 Choices Frozen Yogurt. USC Real Estate & Asset Management, however, told the Daily Trojan that they are in communication with the displaced business owners who may wish to return to the newly renovated village.

“Most smaller businesses simply aren’t looking three years out,” Melissa Schild, the executive director of land use and planning for USC Real Estate and Asset Management, said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “With respect to the businesses that were at the old project, there are a few that have expressed interest, and we would look to talk to them next year, to the extent they are still interested at that time and are a good fit within the merchandising mix for the new project.”

Though the UV has historically been a public resource to the surrounding community, the newly renovated Village will be under tighter security.

“We’ve designed this as an expansion of the existing campus, so all rules will apply to The Village as they apply on campus,” Marsh said. “We’ve designed it so we can have a controlled perimeter when needed and open during business hours, just like campus is now.”

Current security measures stipulate that the University Park Campus is only open to the public between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. Students, staff and registered guests entering campus after 9 p.m. are required to show campus identification upon entering.

Though these same security measures will apply to the new USC Village, community members will have access to certain businesses after hours.

“The way we’ve designed it is that a few of the retail businesses — mostly the ones on the perimeter with street fronts — will have after-hours access, and the grocery store will have after-hours access as well,” Marsh said. “Anything inside of the village around the plaza will have limited hours.”

During the next three years of construction, sidewalk access to The Village will be off-limits to the public. As such, pedestrians will be confined to the east side of Hoover Street, the south side of Jefferson Boulevard and the west side of McClintock Avenue.

“Safety is going to be a really big deal and we need students to help us be aware of their surroundings and pay attention for construction vehicles,” Marsh said. “We want to make sure that the public thinks about safety — not only for them, but for the workers.”

The formal groundbreaking of The Village will take place on Sept. 15.