A major renovation of a Brantford shopping mall could help Wilfrid Laurier University nearly triple the size of its student body in that city.

Once the retail heart of Brantford, the Market Square building began to falter after the collapse of department store chain Eaton’s, and has largely sat empty for the past decade-plus. It was purchased by the university in 2014.

Laurier plans to redo the building, adapting it for academic and other uses. School officials say the redevelopment will be done in two phases. The first will allow the school to increase its capacity in Brantford to 5,000 students from 3,000, while the second – likely to happen much farther in the future – could see that number increase to 8,000.

Architectural firm Moriyama & Teshima has developed a design for the redevelopment which will see the building physically opened up somewhat. A new, dedicated university library will be one of its key uses.