The Village will aim to provide more affordable housing options to students, university officials said Wednesday.
Kristina Raspe, vice president of real estate and asset management, said at the Master Plan Forum hosted by the Undergraduate Student Government that The Village would feature many additional university-owned student housing units to avoid the displacement of residents in the neighborhoods surrounding USC.
Alternative housing choices will also prevent students from paying high rent to third-party renters in the area, according to Raspe.
“We’ve had a lot of comments from our neighbors that our students have overrun the neighborhood and unfortunately caused the displacement of a lot of long-term residents,” Raspe said. “So, the goal of this project is to reverse that pattern and to start bringing students back to university-owned land.”
Though The Village will replace Cardinal Gardens, Century Apartments and La Sarbonne Apartments, which together have a total of 3,211 beds, plans estimate adding about 5,400 beds.
“This student housing would be affordable and appropriate for students,” Raspe said. “A lot of our students are living in substandard housing that they’ve leased from third-party owners that don’t necessarily have [students’] best interest in mind.”
Samantha Ma, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, said she would only consider living at The Village because of its proximity to campus.
“The only reason why I might want to live [there] is because of the convenience and how close I would be to everything,” Ma said.
Isabella Urrea, a sophomore majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said off-campus housing tends to be cheaper.
“USC housing is overpriced and charges way to much money for everything,” Urrea said. “Being guaranteed four years of housing wouldn’t affect me because I chose to leave USC housing because rent [for off campus housing] is cheap and there are good locations.”
Raspe also said one of the many goals of the master plan is to build and sustain the new University Village in an environmentally friendly way by achieving LEED’s gold standard.
“We’re really doing a lot of work on the site to help in order to achieve a gold standard neighborhood development,” Raspe said. “We’re looking at geothermal [and] photovoltaic [energy], as well as collecting rainwater and creating natural plant systems.”
Some students, however, said they were disappointed the project would not immediately impact them.
“Even though all the changes that they’ll be making to the UV sound great, I’m angry that they won’t be happening sooner,” said Reagan Rose, a freshman majoring in mathematics. “Nearly everyone at USC right now won’t even be able to take advantage of the development because the construction will be happening so far away.”
Though the original estimated start of construction was Jan. 2012, it was recently changed to sometime between May 2013 to the end of 2013, according to Raspe.