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LA Council Approves Huge Overhaul Of Shopping Center Next To USC

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(credit: village.usc.edu)

(credit: village.usc.edu)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The City Council unanimously approved a $1.1 billion proposal Tuesday to overhaul an aging shopping center adjacent to the University of Southern California and bring a hotel, movie theater, restaurants and other amenities to a rapidly gentrifying section of Los Angeles.

Plans also call for additional academic buildings and campus housing to accommodate as many as 3,000 students.

USC, which owns the property, has promoted the plan for the Village at USC since 2009. During that time, university officials have met with community leaders and others to win approval for what they believe is the largest proposed economic development in the history of the city’s blue-collar south side.

Following the vote, USC said it hopes to break ground sometime before the end of next year for the project to be built in stages over at least the next two decades.

“It’s part of our overall master plan for enhancing the university as well as the neighborhood,” Thomas Sayles, USC’s senior vice president for university relations, told The Associated Press earlier this year.

“We have believed for a long time that the futures of the community and the university are very much inextricable,” said Sayles, who grew up in the largely minority neighborhood that surrounds much of the university.

USC emphasized that the project will be funded entirely by the university.

“Most development in the city of anything near this size typically involves a host of subsidies and other assistance from government agencies,” said Craig Keys, the university’s associate senior vice president for civic engagement

Higher-end retailers have begun to open in the area in recent years, but it continues to have crime and other problems.

Two graduate students from China were shot to death in their car near the university earlier this year. Last month, a reputed gang member was charged with attempted murder after four people were wounded during a dispute at a campus Halloween party.

The City Council vote allows USC to eventually develop large parcels of university-owned land to both the north and east of the campus, but the key development would go where the modest 1960s-era strip shopping center now stands just north of campus.

It would be replaced by the Village at USC, which officials say will contain 2 million square feet of retail, student housing, hotel and academic space.

As part of the development, the community would also gain a full-service grocery store and sit-down restaurants.

USC said it expects the village will bring 8,000 permanent new jobs to the community, as well as 4,000 temporary ones. University officials say they plan to fill at least 30 percent of those jobs with local residents, with at least 10 percent of the workforce coming from disadvantaged groups.

The university is already the city’s largest private employer, school officials say, with more than 30,000 people on the payroll.

 

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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