Decades-old shopping mall, meet the ivory tower.
McMaster University has announced plans to move its downtown offices and continuing education programs to 1 James St. N., a steel and glass tower on the east side of Jackson Square.
The university has agreed to lease 50,000 square feet on the property and will be moving 200 staff and 4,000 students there before the end of the year.
'We’re making an investment in downtown Hamilton.' —Roger Couldrey, McMaster University
McMaster's Downtown Centre has resided in the city-owned courthouse on 50 Main St. E for 13 years.
The university had planned to buy the old courthouse building. However, those plans were scuttled in 2012 when the city learned it needed the space back for its new Provincial Offences Acts courtrooms.
“When the city informed us we would have to move, our top priority was keeping staff and students together and in the downtown,” Roger Couldrey, McMaster’s vice-president (administration) said in a statement. “Contributing to the developing vibrancy of downtown has been an important part of our decision-making.”
The city has asked McMaster to vacate the old courthouse by January 2015.
The university’s Downtown Centre, which McMaster leases from the city for $180,000 per year, houses its financial services, Centre for Continuing Education, Foundation for Medical Practice Education, payroll, public relations, Ontario Physician Human Resources Data Centre and university advancement, among other offices.
Couldrey told CBC Hamilton on Thursday that the move will start this summer and conclude by the end of 2014.
"We’ll do it in phases because there are a number of groups involved."
McMaster will lease the space from Yale Properties, the company that operates Jackson Square.
Couldrey said the university won't be releasing the details of the agreement, but noted McMaster has signed a "long-term lease."
"We’re making an investment in downtown Hamilton," he said. "We’ll be there for quite awhile."