During fall, the biggest news on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC) is usually made by the Trojan's football team, a perennial powerhouse which has one won more Rose bowl championship games than any other college.

But this season, the talk of the campus is the groundbreaking of USC Village, the school's new 1.25-million-sq-ft residential and retail complex, which is not only the largest development in USC history, but also one of the largest in the history of South Los Angeles.

The $1.1 billion, two-phase project is expected to create up to 12,000 immediate and long-term jobs, while bringing in mega dollars to the local economy. The school signed a project labor agreement and will make sure that at least 30 percent of the construction jobs come from local sources.

blog post photo

(rendering from Harley Ellis Devereaux)

Phase 1 of the development was designed and master-planned by the Los Angeles office of Harley Ellis Devereaux and is being built by Hathaway Dinwiddie of Los Angeles. 

This $650 million phase will include a full-service grocery store, approximately 100,000-sq-ft of additional retail, a fitness center, restaurants, a community room, and entertainment venues for students and neighborhood families. And its all surrounded by cafes, plazas, pedestrian walkways, and lush green spaces with trees and fountains in an open environment.

The project will be architecturally compatible with the buildings on the University Park campus, with collegiate gothic characteristic elements incorporated into the design.

"The Village at USC will be an architectural masterpiece. It will look like a medieval Tuscan village redefined for the 21st century," said USC President C. L. Max Nikias on the Harley Ellis Devereaux website.

Slated for a 2017 completion, the development also includes a complex of five-story residence halls capable of housing up to 2,700 students

The second phase of the project is planned to include somewhere around 2,500 additional beds, 500,000 sq-ft of classrooms and roughly 235,000 sq-ft of retail.

Helping make the USC Village housing possible was the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation which donated $30 million in August to create the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation Honors Hall. The Leavey's are also known for founding Farmers Insurance Group. 

The new project replaces the school's 50-yr-old University Village, and sits on 30 acres of land owned by the university, except for a small plot occupied by Fire Station #15 on Jefferson Boulevard. Officials say the fire department will be relocated to another site nearby and the village will be built around and incorporate the historic fire station.