City planners brief public about massive plan to rebuild areas surrounding USC

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Project planners with the city of Los Angeles have put the finishing touches on an environmental proposal that seeks to give areas near USC a major facelift. A public briefing on the project was held Wednesday night.

The redevelopment project is called USC Village. It covers at least 300,000 feet of ground and seeks to replace a shopping center and dorms – and to add housing, a hotel and a public plaza with shops.

The environmental review aims to address the effects of potential traffic, noise and people on the surrounding areas. Some of USC's neighbors have expressed concern that upgrades near the campus will displace them. Project Manager Faisal Roble says he has faith people will not be forced to leave their homes.

“We’re writing community plans as we speak that precisely speak to the issue of gentrification and make sure that folks stay where they are, " said Roble. "New development and provisions that protect certain portions of future development... and low-income residents in the area.”

Lou Edward has lived in the area for 40 years. He stopped by the public forum to catch up on the plan. Edward remembers a similar rebuilding effort in the same area near USC in the 1970s.

“That village outgrew itself, " Edward recalled. "Because if you go there the first of the month or lunch or something, you got no parking over there. So as far as the Village project, I think we need it.”

USC officials pledge that the new development will serve its students, staff and neighbors better than the existing University Village – and will generate more jobs in the rapidly changing area near downtown L.A.

Managers say the public is invited to review the project’s environmental plan online. People may find it on the Department of City Planning’s website.