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UWO plans for core campus
By Chris Lackner
Western is on the verge of expanding its campus into downtown London.
Ted Garrard, Western's VP-external, said a lease agreement has finally been drafted between Western and a downtown landlord, which would see the university's Continuing Studies program move to a new downtown location. "It's been a long process," he added. "Hopefully it's in its final stages."
Garrard said both sides are currently reviewing the terms of the lease, adding a public announcement could be coming soon.
The downtown building is part of a $10 million City grant given to Western a year ago, to be put towards rebuilding projects. Garrard said negotiations with the landlord were more complicated than expected, as details concerning security, taxes, lease improvements and hours of operation had to be worked out in negotiation.s
Public knowledge of the building location and landlord can not be disclosed until after the lease has been signed, Garrard said, adding the information could damage final negotiations.
Garrard said once the lease is signed there will be a period of renovation in the leased building before the Continuing Studies Centre can move into the facility. "[The building] will demonstrate we're part of the community and will play a part in the downtown revitalization process.
Sharon Collins, director of the Centre for Continuing Studies, said the new building will allow the centre to offer full time programs, which could not be offered on campus due to a lack of space. She said she expected 5,000 students to have access to the new location.
"We're really excited," she noted. "It's a great space and it will increase Western's visibility in the heart of downtown."
Collins said it has been difficult for the centre to wait through out the lease negotiations, adding full time programs have had to be put on hiatus due to a lack of space.
Gord Hume, a member of London's Board of Control, said he could understand some minor delays in the drafting of the lease, but added he hopes the downtown relocation can now move forward as rapidly as possible.
"I think there are a number of very important benefits," Hume added. "One is simply the reaffirmation of the university's commitment to London's downtown and to the growth of this community. Another benefit is the thousands of people that would be attracted to the downtown core in an academic year and the economic benefits which will come from that influx of people."