USC Village adds vendors, nears completion
USC Village will finish construction by the first week of July, program managers said. Following the construction, end-users including the Departments of Public Safety, Transportation, Student Affairs, Auxiliary and Facilities and Management Services will have access to the buildings. Rooms will be ready for occupation in July, according to William Marsh, director of the USC Village.
The $700 million project, the largest in University history, includes 134,000 square feet of retail space, 466 retail parking spaces and more than 1,500 bike racks.
More than 34 percent of workers are local hires, USC media representative Ron Mackovich said.
USC Village will house four residential colleges, including the McCarthy Honors Residential College, the “jewel box of the whole project,” according to Marsh. It will also be home to as many as 35 retailers, including restaurants and services such as Target Express and Trader Joe’s.
Many retailers from the University Village, which was demolished in 2014, will reopen their branches on the new site, including Bank of America, Starbucks and Village Cobbler, Marsh said.
USC Village will also house several business founded by partnerships with at least one USC graduate. These include Trejo’s Tacos, Rance’s Chicago Pizza, Sole Bicycles and URB-E Mobility Hub.
Some of the new tenant vendors will include SunLife Organics, Greenleaf Gourmet ChopShop, Cava Grill, Rock and Reilly’s and Barilla Restaurant.
“All of the tenants are working very hard to be open when the semester starts,” said Laurie Stone, associate senior vice president of USC Real Estate and Assets. “We expect a majority to hit the mid-August opening date. Some of the tenants will open later in the semester.”
Despite the additions to USC Village, Aaron Flournoy’s bike shop, Lil Bill’s, will not be returning to campus after 40 years of service to students after the University agreed to a non-compete clause with a new bike shop at USC Village. Flournoy was given until April 30 to vacate.
“I have so much love for this campus and this school,” Flournoy said to the Daily Trojan in March. “Everyone [who has] met me knows how much me and my family love this school and stand behind it. And for USC to tell me to go, or that I’m no longer needed or welcome, I think is an injustice.”
When news of Lil Bill’s Bike Shop closing was first published in March, students started an online petition, which collected 6,500 signatures, to save the shop.
“Many within and outside of USC looked for ways to assist Mr. Flournoy,” said Earl Paysinger, USC’s vice president of civic engagement. “He was offered a full-time job with benefits as a bicycle mechanic, which was not accepted. Additionally, USC offered Mr. Flournoy an alternative on-campus location near three residence halls, which also was not accepted.”
Aside from the retailers at USC Village, all of the buildings have been approved by the city of Los Angeles, Marsh said, and the team has begun loading furniture into the residential rooms. Currently, four of the six buildings have been loaded with residence furniture, and three buildings have been loaded with laundry equipment.
The bulk of the work left for May and June is off site, Marsh said.
The team’s next step is to widen the sidewalks on the north and south sides of Jefferson Boulevard, according to Marsh. June will be the most disruptive month for traffic, he said, because the asphalt on Jefferson Boulevard between Orchard Avenue and Royal Street will have to be redone, and the median will be reconstructed.
Marsh added that the project ran smoothly with no major delays partly due to the lack of rain. The team expected more rain days.
“We never really had the El Niño that we expected,” Marsh said. “It was one of the big scheduled things that we were really concerned about.”
Rain days cause major delays to construction sites because no construction can take place during a downpour and mitigating 15 acres of rain water takes immense effort, Marsh said.
While Marsh, a USC alumnus, is hard at work ensuring the final steps of the project will go as planned, he is in awe of the new resources the University will have.
“No question, this is a game-changer for the University,” Marsh said. “Having great housing, new fresh housing with apartment-style living … and then having the bonus of the retail component related to Target, Trader Joe’s and about 16 different food and beverage facilities will make it highly popular.”