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Drum Major Chris Rick leads the Trojan Marching Band across Jefferson Boulevard into USC Village. (USC Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
Parents bring out their smartphones to record the 2017 new-student convocation. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Trojan parents and friends commemorate 2017’s new-student convocation with snapshots and victory signs. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)
The new-student convocation marks the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Banners representing USC schools and residential colleges are carried into the new-student convocation. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

The Trojan Family welcomed into USC Village

August 30, 2017 7:06 pm

Hundreds followed the Trojan Marching Band, led by its Trojan warrior, into the medieval Tuscan village—a medieval village complete with a Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and housing accommodations for 2,500 students.

A woman in the crowd shouted, “Let’s follow them!”

Located at the corner of Hoover Street and Jefferson Boulevard, USC Village, the university’s massive development, opened officially to the Trojan community on Thursday Aug. 17, the same day as the annual new-student convocation.

According to university President C.L. Max Nikias, The Village holds the title for the largest development in the university’s history and also the largest South Los Angeles has ever seen.

“This project has been a labor of love for all of us,” Nikias said. “We built this village to show our enduring commitment to our exceptional students and our beloved neighbors.”

 

Making its mark

The $700 million project increases the university’s University Park footprint by nearly a third with its six buildings spread over 15 acres. Retail takes presence on the ground level while residential college suites are on the upper level. An A-framed dining hall boasts custom stained-glass windows and gothic-style seating.

“I think it’s truly amazing. It’s brand-new and we’re the first ones to experience that,” said Shane Mitchell, a sophomore studying political science. “We went to Target and lines were out the door.”

Mitchell and his friends were excited about the new retailers. There will be 25 in all, the majority of which are restaurants, such as Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, The Baked Bear and a couple with celebrity ties, such as Trejo’s Tacos and Wahlburgers.

“I hope Marky Mark comes for the grand opening [of Wahlburgers],” junior Vrej Hamayam said of the rapper-turned-actor-turned-restaurateur.

The housing also left the crowd in awe. “It’s like a resort,” Mitchell said.

The suite-style residences feature shared common areas, including outdoor lounges where students can study or just look down at the Central Piazza below. Most suites have a kitchen. There’s also a 30,000 square-foot fitness center.

A major commitment

Through this investment, it is apparent that USC champions on-campus living as an essential part of the educational experience. Last year, USC also showed the importance of residential living through its inaugural Residential College Cup and the introduction of new residential housing crests, both of which boost camaraderie.

“It’s a rare opportunity I think for a university. It’s nice they invest in their students,” said Katia Ellati, a junior, noting how convenient the village is. “It’s cool that the people around us, not just the students, get to use it. It’s bringing the community together.”

Besides being a bonus for the Trojan community, it will benefit South Los Angeles as well, said Councilman Curren Price. He represents L.A.’s 9th district, which includes USC.

For the first time, Trader Joe’s, Target, and trendy Sunset Boulevard eatery The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino are touching down in South LA.

“Thank you for understanding the key to the future of this university is in its connection to its neighborhood,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, who was Los Angeles mayor when the project was approved.

In support of local residents, USC is giving the city $20 million toward nearby affordable housing. USC also built a $16 million firehouse down the street.

During construction, more than 20 percent of the workers lived within five miles of the site and the Village will offer about 800 jobs. There’s also a community room that will be open to the public for local programming and events.

There are many things to do at the village, one of them is a new photo opp, which might give Tommy Trojan a run for his money.

A 20-foot-tall bronze statue of Hecuba, Queen of Troy, was revealed to fanfare, with cardinal and gold streamers falling through the air. At her base is a tribute to diversity and the studies of various disciplines.

“I thought it was amazing, especially because she’s a woman,” Ellati said.

Her friend sophomore Lauren Young added, “It’s showing the true diversity of USC.”

USC Village for the environment

USC Village for the environment

USC Village has an underground french drain system to reduce runoff into the city sewage system. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

For the environment, too

USC Village was developed with sustainability and the environment in mind.

STORMWATER

USC Village’s stormwater collection system is designed to catch and clean 198,000 gallons during a downpour, then return the water to the aquifer.

TREES

Shading USC Village are 390 evergreen and native species trees, including camphor, oak and arbutus (marina strawberry tree).

CONSTRUCTION SIGNS

The vinyl banners hanging on the fences during construction are being upcycled into limited-edition souvenir wallets and totes.