Windsor city council is fast-tracking plans to convert a vacant downtown office building into a state-of-the-art "mediaplex" for St. Clair College.

A request to rezone the old Salvation Army building, at the corner of Victoria Avenue and University Avenue, will bypass the planning advisory committee and go straight to council on Nov. 23, councillors agreed at a meeting Monday night.

Currently, the building is considered commercial property. It will need to be defined as institutional for St. Clair College to take it over.


This graphic representation shows plans for state-of-the art television studios at St. Clair College's new 'mediaplex.' ((St. Clair College))

The rush is necessary if St. Clair is to finish renovating the building by the end of March, a deadline the federal government imposed when it announced $5 million in funding for the project on Sept. 2.

The funding is part of the government's $1-billion Community Adjustment Fund meant to create jobs during the economic downturn.

The 16,000-square-foot space is "the right fit" for the college which wants to turn it into an ultra-modern journalism school, including classrooms and studios, said John Fairley, the school's director of communications.

"There was a lot of offers, a lot of walking, kicking tires and looking at them, but I think this was the best fit," Fairley said.

It's a good fit for the city, too, according to Mayor Eddie Francis.

"Obviously, it's our way of trying to facilitate economic development in the downtown core, bringing more students to the downtown core, taking an asset that was not utilized and giving it a use of this nature," Francis said.

The new complex is expected to draw more than 200 students.