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A rendering of the new BMO Campus urban workspace hangs in the Eaton centre.

Christopher Katsarov/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Bank of Montreal is taking over a four-storey space in the Toronto Eaton Centre in a bid to attract the high-tech talent it needs to bring ideas to the market quicker.

The bank's plans, unveiled on Thursday, include an "urban campus" that will take over the former Sears Canada digs at the mall and house 3,500 employees when it opens in 2021.

Chief executive Darryl White called it "central to the business transformation underway at BMO."

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"We are changing the way we work all across the bank and through the strategic partnerships that we create...so that we can move faster and take new ideas to our customers quickly," he said to a crowd of hundreds of his employees, who had gathered at the mall for the announcement.

In recent years, the large Canadian banks have been competing for talent. Last year, Scotiabank opened its "digital factory" compete with a bowling alley and speakeasy to attract highly skilled workers.

BMO declined to say what it was spending on its space, but called it a "meaningful investment."

It said the campus will offer "advanced digital technology, open floorplans, a variety of collaborative work areas and easy underground PATH access to other major BMO locations, public transit, and hundreds of restaurants and entertainment options."

John Sullivan, president and CEO of Eaton Centre-owner Cadillac Fairview, said the mall and bank had been discussing the campus for at least a year.

He said Cadillac Fairview has invested more than $1.4-billion in the mall over the last six years with a goal of making it "the ultimate destination for retail, for office and for innovation."

"I look at this new lease and this new project that we are doing together with BMO and I think it is a culmination of all those efforts," Sullivan said.

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