Construction will take several years

Though the Los Angeles City Council approved construction on the The Village at USC project in December, the timeline for development is not set and initial planning stages for the first phase, which precedes actual architectural design, could take anywhere from 12 to 24 months.

The first phase of construction will just affect the lot of the University Village. Cardinal Gardens and Century apartments will not be impacted immediately.

The university must also build a new fire station before any construction begins, according to USC Real Estate and Asset Management. This might happen in the next year or two.

The large size of the project is to blame for the amount of time it will take for construction to begin. The city permits USC to build on up to two million square feet — 10 times the size of the Ronald Tutor Campus Center. For reference, the new Engemann Health Center took 18 months to construct and about six months to plan. It is 101,000 square feet.

Renderings shown on the website and printed in the Daily Trojan last year are not architecturally accurate — they were used to show the city what The Village will generally look like. An architect has yet to be assigned the project.

The Village will likely use the space more efficiently to accommodate for the expected addition of 5,000 beds, and the city’s permit to build requires that the university to build space for at least 3,000 new beds before demolishing existing housing.

Though Cardinal Gardens and Century apartments will likely not be demolished for a few years, the city’s permits also grant USC permission to add 2,400 beds. At an on-campus forum in April 2012, Vice President for Real Estate and Asset Management Kristina Raspe said one of the primary purposes of The Village is to grant more housing to students.

“There is not enough housing that is appropriate quality or appropriately priced for our students,” Raspe said. “For us to continue to compete for the best and brightest students, the quality of student housing will be a part of this. Adding new beds will have an impact on rent in the area and will significantly decrease rent.”

The plan approved by the city incentivizes USC to provide more housing. USC must give the city of Los Angeles $20 million toward affordable housing development, giving $10 million when construction begins, $5 million 10 years later and another $5 million five years after that. But, if the university provides housing to 70 percent of its undergraduate population 20 years after The Village opens, the final $5 million installment is waived.

The plan approved by the city council also requires that USC apply for new building permits if construction is not completed by 2030.

USC bought the University Village in 1999, taking over leases of already-established businesses and using empty space to house several USC offices, including a physical therapy clinic and a community computer center. Public meetings for the purpose of developing the renovation plan began in 2008.

When the city council approved the project in December, Senior Vice President of University Relations Thomas Sayles emphasized the long process of planning led to the city council’s unanimous approval.

“It’s a win-win-win. It’s a win for the university, it’s a win for the community and it’s a win for the city of Los Angeles,” Sayles told the Daily Trojan. “There was virtually no opposition to this today, and the collaboration process has made it possible for us to embark on this truly transformative project.”

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