$15 million gift underscores USC Village progress

Three of nine residential colleges are now endowed at the $650 million project — a testament to the vibrancy of USC’s intellectual community

March 17, 2015 Diane Krieger

USC Village is starting to take shape, and so is the giving that supports it. An anonymous donor has given $15 million to endow one of the residential colleges at USC Village, bringing the number of endowed residential colleges at the complex to three.

Two previous gifts named McCarthy Honors College and the Ray Irani Residential College. In all, nine residential colleges will be created as part of the $700 million USC Village project. The residential-retail center, which will house up to 2,700 students on the north side of the University Park Campus, is the most expansive development project in the history of south Los Angeles.

USC Village signals our commitment to bolstering the overall student experience, and to becoming a fully residential university.

C. L. Max Nikias

“USC Village signals our commitment to bolstering the overall student experience, and to becoming a fully residential university,” said President C. L. Max Nikias. “It is a testament to the vibrancy of our intellectual community and will nurture generations of young Trojan scholars.”

Construction ramps up

The latest gift comes as construction ramps up on the 15-acre USC Village site bounded by Jefferson Boulevard, McClintock Avenue and Hoover and 30th streets. Columns already rise from the earth, and tower cranes swivel high overhead as construction continues five days a week, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Construction crews from general contractor Hathaway Dinwiddie have finished digging the foundations and laying footings for the project’s first two structures; work on three more structures begins this month.

The development’s scale dwarfs any single building project USC has ever created. The largest structure — for now simply known as Building 9 — is the size of a full-service hotel.

“The Omni Los Angeles at California Plaza has 769 beds,” project manager Willy Marsh said. “We’re at 740 beds, with a retail component and parking below.”

Under Jefferson Boulevard, the Southern California Gas Co. has upgraded its infrastructure to meet the demands of a 1.25-million-square-foot development that will house thousands of students on its upper floors and offer ample shops and restaurants below.

Crews also already finished excavating and shoring up a two-level, 466-space underground parking structure for USC Village shoppers. Builders buttressed the 32-feet-deep cavity with heavy-duty threaded rods as a safeguard to a nearby 61-inch water main running under Hoover Street.

Plenty of customer parking

Project planners are confident there will be plenty of customer parking at USC Village. The garage under Trader Joe’s in Building 9 represents a 35 percent increase over the 340 visitor spaces of the former shopping center’s open lots. The new underground structure will have bright lighting and security cameras throughout, and Department of Public Safety staff will be stationed onsite.

Short-term parking will be free with validation, Marsh said. Metered parking will be eliminated on Jefferson Boulevard, but will still be available along Hoover Street and McClintock Avenue; curbside parking in the adjacent neighborhood will remain unchanged. For USC permit holders, a new 1,300-space structure next to the Shrine Auditorium will open by late 2016.

The new development also will provide 20,000 square feet of covered bike parking, Marsh said.

For now, two original buildings still stand on the job site: Fire Station No. 15 and a former Bank of America branch.

The firehouse will remain active through April, when its state-of-the-art replacement on the corner of Hoover and 30th streets will be ready. Over the summer the decommissioned building will be partially preserved and its front section moved to a site near the Robert Zemeckis Center on 32nd Street, where it will serve as a sound studio for the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Taking the old fire station’s place at USC Village will be a pedestrian paseo — the continuation of Watt Way — leading to the development’s main plaza.

The former Bank of America branch currently serves as the development project’s construction office. When USC Village nears completion in 2017, the old stucco building will be demolished to make way for a landscaped quadrangle. A new Bank of America branch will occupy a space in Building 8.

USC Village will be made possible, in part, by the Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort that seeks to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world. Four years after its launch, the campaign has raised more than $4 billion.