Within the next decade, USC is going to embark on a massive expansion project. The University is expected to add an additional 1.5 million square feet of academic (mainly teaching and research) space. This is a significant addition, considering the campus currently has around 2.6 million square feet of total academic space.
University Park Campus
The USC Master Plan calls for these additions to take place within the 161 acre University Park campus footprint, while preserving historical buildings and green space. USC is also looking to address its dire need for an additional 5,400 beds of student housing. In order to accomodate the additional academic uses, prior under utilized space must be removed.
The current University Village is located directly adjacent to USC along Jefferson and Hoover. It currently contains a three screen movie theater, a Superior Supermarket, a food court, a Bank of America, a Denny’s and various other retail and service related outlets. It is situated on approximately 35 acres of prime real estate.
The University Master Plan calls for this space to eventually have 500,000 SF of academic space, 350,000 SF area-serving retail uses, 165,000 SF of hotel/ conference space, and housing for 5,400 students (about 2 million square feet).
The new University Village is designed to be open and welcoming to the surrounding community. It will do this by having ground floor retail and services fronting adjacent streets. This is in contrast to developments like the Grove and LA Live that concentrate retail, dining, and other services inwards, while the outside serves as a giant wall or advertising canvas. Housing will be located above retail and will be available at several price points (hopefully some of those will be affordable).
Overall, the project looks like it will be a positive addition to the USC community. There could be some improvements in terms of bicycle and transit accommodation. The new UV will create new bicycle lanes on Jefferson Blvd, along with an expanded sidewalk for pedestrians. I see this as a missed opportunity to create a Class I bike path along this stretch of Jefferson. A Class I bike path could also bisect the development giving bicyclists an advantage over automobile travel to and from University Village. In terms of transit, I was told that there would be a transit plaza of some sort, but all I could find in the site plan was a valet plaza. Considering the developments proximity to several county bus lines, as well as the USC shuttle system, and the Metro Expo light rail line, I hope to see more integration and better connections for transit users within the immediate area. Well marked, well lit, and full sheltered bus stops should be the norm.