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The Union Bank Tower in Winnipeg is being transformed into part of the Red River College downtown campus. ((CBC))

The long-vacant Union Bank Tower on Main Street in downtown Winnipeg — Western Canada's first skyscraper — was given a new lease on life Wednesday.

The federal and provincial governments held a joint press conference to announced they are contributing $15 million towards the redevelopment of the building, located next to city hall at the corner of Main Street and William Avenue.

The city and a private donor, Paterson GlobalFoods, are putting in a combined $5 million.

Work will begin this fall to convert the 11-storey structure into the new home for Red River College's Culinary Arts program, as well as student residences and a restaurant.

Another $7 million is needed to complete the residence portion of the project, and fundraising for that purpose has already started, college officials said. The cost of the entire project will be $27 million.

The building, which cost $420,000 to construct in 1903, was built for the Union Bank of Lower Canada when Winnipeg was thriving as the financial, grain marketing, warehousing and transportation hub of the west.

The Royal Bank of Canada took over the Union Bank in 1925 and operated out of the premises until 1992, when it relocated. The building has been vacant ever since.