Metro file A sign marks the future home of Fanshawe College's Centre for Digital and Performing Arts on Dundas Street.

Outside it’s temporary signs, a few boarded-up windows, and construction fences.

But inside 137 Dundas St., the first phase of Fanshawe College’s downtown School of Applied and Performance Arts is beginning to take shape.

Renovations that started in March included gutting the former Royal Trust building and reconfiguring it to fit classrooms, offices, and theatre space. Now, contractors are putting the pieces back together.

“They’re defining the rooms right now with metal studs, duct work — and plumbing is starting to take shape,” said Denise Luksys, who’s coordinating the project for Fanshawe. “The project itself is slated for completion in mid-to-late July of this year.”

Classes for about 500 students are expected to start in September  — two years after college officials announced they had bought the building.

Extensive exterior work — expected to include multiple elements for curb appeal — will begin as early as next week, Luksys said. Project leaders want at least some of the work done in time for downtown’s international debut during the World Figure Skating Championships in March.

The Dundas Street site is part of a larger, $40-million effort that’s expected to see Fanshawe turn several other downtown buildings into classrooms over the next decade. The city’s has agreed to foot up to half the bill in an effort to promote arts, education and culture in the core.

Officials are still hunting for a building suitable for the project’s next phase, said Shawn Harrington, Fanshawe’s senior manager of facilities and development.

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