Museum exterior
Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY | The City Council will vote Monday on a lease agreement with the Sioux City Community School District that will allow the district to re-purpose unused portions of the downtown public museum for specialty courses. 

The school district in mid-July approved a purchase agreement with Museum Building Property Inc. to pay $1.5 million for 75,000 square feet of the building at 607 Fourth St.

That purchasing process is underway, according to city documents. The purchase will require a new lease agreement between the city and the district, which is what the council will vote on Monday. 

The district's stated plans include constructing new rooms in a portion of the museum building that at one time housed a Delta Air Lines call center before the center closed in 2012, resulting in 165 lost jobs. The building originally served as a J.C. Penney retail store before a large portion of the space was converted into a more expansive home for the public museum. 

The proposed lease with the school district includes the following terms:

-- The 50-year lease will begin Dec. 1 and cost $1 per year. 

-- The museum will be responsible for all maintenance and utilities within its leased space. 

-- Common area charges will be split between the museum and the school district based on the square footage used. The museum will be responsible for 45 percent of the costs. 

The move is seen by the district as a more centralized way to offer Life Academy and Career Academy courses, which have previously been spread through all three high schools -- West, North and East -- as well as Western Iowa Tech Community College and the downtown Ho-Chunk Centre. The classrooms could be converted by the 2018-19 school year. 

The district's growing Career Academy allows students to take specialty courses in business and marketing, family and consumer science, health science and industrial technology. 

Life Academy courses have been held at Western Iowa Tech, but college officials have said they need that space for other uses. The Ho-Chunk Centre space is leased for Career Academy courses at a cost of $75,000 annually through 2024. 

The Ho-Chunk and museum space is connected via the city skywalk to the school district's administrative offices. 

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