The college will lease 82,000 square feet inside Market Square for the new campus, which will deliver business programs to approximately 1,000 students in January 2020.
"[Market Square] is a great place for us as it's a central part of the city," John Tibbits, president of Conestoga College, said at the announcement Friday.
Conestoga College has significantly branched out to neighbouring cities in the past, with campuses now in Waterloo, Cambridge, Guelph, Brantford and Stratford.
Tibbits said the college has had an interest in having a presence in downtown Kitchener for a long time.
He hopes the new campus will help attract more international students to the area and anticipates the campus will host more than 2,000 students within the next three years.
Over that time, the college plans to lease more vacant space in Market Square and add more programs and services.
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Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and Conestoga College President John Tibbits announced Friday that the college would be opening a new campus in Market Square in January 2020.
The campus will occupy 82,000 of the malls 250,000 square feet and will serve business programming to about 1,000 students. In the future, it will expand to teach other courses, as well.
Locating this campus in Downtown Kitchener creates fantastic opportunities for welcoming these new students in collaboration with our vibrant business community in the heart of our city, Vrbanovic was quoted in a press release.
The move will serve as a much-needed boost to the plaza, which has seen several anchor tenants leave over the past couple of years, most notably the GoodLife Fitness, which closed in December 2018.
Nordia, a call centre that had been in the square since 1999, had also planned to relocate its 350 employees to a new location by March.
It will also coincide with the residential building boom that downtown Kitchener has been enjoying, with over 2,000 new units planned within walking distance and thousands more accessible by LRT.
Im thrilled that Conestoga College has chosen Downtown Kitcheners Market Square as the site for their new campus, says Ward 10 Councillor Sarah Marsh in a press release. This investment into Downtown Kitchener will support and grow our local economy, and showcase Kitcheners dynamic and inclusive community to the world.
The college will not provide its own food vendors at the location, it says, in an effort to support local restaurants.
The mall was purchased by Europro in 2016. Last year, when the news about GoodLife emerged, vice president of business development Craig Haney hinted that the mall may shift from its former life.
Ten, 20, 30 years from now, this place will be different, he said at the time. It probably wont be a retail mall.