USC's The Village project, which would replace the rundown University Village with dorms, retail, and a hotel, is gearing up for its city approvals process and things are getting contentious, natch. At a planning department open house last night and in the week leading up to the meeting, locals said they were concerned that the project will gentrify the neighborhood too much, raising rents and pushing lower income residents out (compare to UCLA, which has Westwood hoteliers fighting its hotel/conference plan). A group called United Neighbors In Defense Against Displacement planned to protest the meeting--they say they don't want to stop the development, just make sure it meets the community's needs as well as USC's. According to the LA Times, "the university is trying to meet some of the concerns raised by activists and negotiate city agreements that would guarantee local hiring and provide more funding to improve neighborhood housing and convert some from student-tenancy to family residences." They also argue that The Village will create jobs and drive down housing rates by increasing the stock and getting students out of cheap area housing.
In a pretty pro-college story, Neon Tommy reported last week that USC is studying other fancy private colleges that operate in low-income neighborhoods, like Penn, and plans to have both community- and USC-serving retail in the new The Village: "There is speculation that both Trader Joes and Superior Market will be located in the new Village. This is a prime example at how the committee is trying to appease both sides of the community." Existing store owners will be invited back to the new complex, although their rents may be raised.
Another hearing will be held tonight at the Radisson on Figueroa. ABC7 reports that USC hopes to have its approvals by summer and start work on the project in 2013.
· USC's retail, housing project faces city hearing and criticism [LAT]
· University Village Faces Changes, Challenges [Neon Tommy]
· Reading, Writing and More Red Brick: USC's Big Master Plan [Curbed LA]