Last month, the LA City Planning Commission unanimously approved the new design guidelines for the massive Village at USC.  The $1.1 billion development seeks to reinvent the dilapidated University Village shopping center as a thriving mixed-use complex, reminiscent of Glendale's Americana at Brand.  Elkus Manfredi Architects, the Boston-based firm which designed the Americana, has taken the lead on the project, with additional work from Michigan-based Harley Ellis Devereaux.  Updated renderings show a series of brick clad structures, centered around a large plaza and bisected with wide, retail laden paseos.  These five initial buildings will house 2,470 students above 140,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.  The Village's full build out would contain over 2 million square feet of student housing, academic facilities and neighborhood serving retail.  The project will fund streetscape improvements around the USC campus' perimeter, including a road diet for Jefferson Boulevard.  As the result of contentious negotiations with the city during the approval process in 2012, USC will also provide $20 million for affordable housing in the surrounding area.  The Village at USC will provide a pedestrian friendly town square for the University Park neighborhood, serving students, staff and permanent residents alike.  The nearby Metro Expo Line will give Trojans and Angelenos the ability to visit while leaving their personal automobiles behind.  Gentrification is always a touchy subject, but its tough to argue against it when it looks and feels this good.  The Village could start work in mid-2014 at the earliest.


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Senior Affordable Housing Opens Near Orange County's Great Park

The two-building development features 157 apartments.

Developers Related California and FivePoint have opened a new affordable housing complex near Irvine's Great Park.  The project, called Luxaira, features 157 residential units catering to low-income seniors.  It is the second senior affordable development to be built in the Great Park neighborhoods by Related, FivePoint, and collaborator RCC Charitage.  To date, more than 500 affordable housing units have been built around the park in four separate projects.