LOS ANGELES-Affiliates of locally based Urban Partners and Blackstone Real Estate Advisors have kicked off construction of the University Gateway apartment and retail project, which will feature 421 apartments and 78,000 sf of retail space adjacent to the USC campus. The development site is a four-acre parcel at the northwest corner of Figueroa Street and Jefferson Avenue.

The project will consist of an eight-story structure of more than 600,000 sf of floor area and a nine-level parking garage devoted to student and retail parking, plus bicycle storage. Neighborhood-serving restaurants and retail outlets with national and regional tenants will fill the ground floor retail space.

The 421 apartments will include 14 one-bedroom units that will average 668 sf each and 407 two-bedroom, two-bath apartments of 910 sf each, with each of the two-bedroom units designed to accommodate four students. Other features of the development will include a lobby and lounge, a mailroom, a recreation room, a fitness center and a building management office. The builder for the project is Clark Construction, and Campus Advantage, an Austin, TX-based real estate firm specializing in the management and development of student housing, will manage it.

Matthew Burton, principal and CFO of Urban Partners, says that with the recent groundbreaking, the project is on track to be completed in the summer of 2010. He says the development “will provide much-needed expansion” to the on-campus housing supply for a student population that now numbers more than 33,400 undergraduates and graduate students.

Urban Partners LLC is a Downtown Los Angeles-based real estate planning, investment, development and management firm that was founded by Paul Keller, Dan Rosenfeld and the late Ira Yellin in 2000. Urban Partners also operates an affiliate project delivery and construction management firm, Keller CMS, and a northwest regional office in Seattle.