Fanshawe College is in the process of purchasing the Market Tower from Farhi Holdings to add more students and programs in the downtown core, CTV News has learned.

Pending some inspections, the college has confirmed it has settled on a price and is planning a purchase.

The tower on the southwest corner of Dundas Street and Richmond Street currently houses a number of offices occupied by city staff, including Ontario Works.

There has long been a call to revitalize the iconic building and surrounding areas and draw more people into the city.

Dr. Howard Rundle, Fanshawe College president, says “If everything goes to plan, we would like to buy the building.”

He says the price tag is in the $10-15 million range, but will be much higher when renovations are factored in.

Though he is on the verge of retiring, Rundle says he’s been very close to the project and the college will utilize millions from the city to make it a showpiece.

“We want it to look good. So, if that means a few more millions dollars, as long as we can afford it, I want it to be a spectacular presence downtown.”

The expansion comes even before the completion of the college’s newest downtown campus location on Dundas Street just to the west of the Market Tower.

The first phase of Fanshawe’s Centre for Digital and Performance Arts was slated to open in September, but construction delays mean it likely won’t be ready until at least the middle of October.

Some 400 students will instead start their digital studies at the college’s main campus.

The phase is just part of a planned $40 million downtown campus that included plans to purchase additional buildings in the core.

Hospitality and Food Services are among the programs that could have a new headquarters in the core.

As for the city services currently housed in the building, London Mayor Joe Fontana says “Now, in order to facilitate Fanshawe moving to Market Tower, we’ve had to re-negotiate a lease - a very good lease - to move that personnel to the Bell Canada building.”

Bob Usher, general manager at the Covent Garden Market and a member of the Business Improvement Association, says the decision is great news for the downtown core.

“It will change the type of individual that is here. It will change the outlook of Londoners on the downtown and I think it’s all very, very positive.”

Rundle hopes the deal is finalized as soon as possible, and says the college will consider building residences for students downtown as well if demand increases.

It’s still unclear how many students will attend full-time classes at the Market Tower, but it is possible some unused space in the 200,000 square foot building could be leased to other community partners in the early stages.