School District to purchase P-C building

BY IAN SMITH | NOVEMBER 10, 2010 7:20 AM

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The Iowa City School District has found a new home for its central offices.

The School Board voted Tuesday night to purchase the Iowa City Press-Citizen building at 1725 N. Dodge St. to house the district's headquarters.

The district has been searching for a location after it sold its current Central Administrative Building, 509 S. Dubuque St., to the University of Iowa for $4.5 million in July. The university plans to use the site to relocate businesses displaced by the construction of its new music building downtown.

"I think this is a really positive location," board member Toni Cilek said. "It's easy to get to all quadrants of the city."

The district plans to be in the building by Oct. 15, 2011.

Superintendent Steve Murley said the district will spend $4.5 million to purchase and renovate the building, which is valued at roughly $2.8 million, according to the Iowa City Assessor's website.

Board members said the many issues the district has with its current building will solved in the Press-Citizen facility. The building, located on the East Side of Iowa City south of Interstate 80, has plenty of space — 40,000 square feet, 16,000 more than the current building.

Murley also said the new building is one floor as opposed to three, and it meets accessibility requirements for the Americans under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The current building has compliance issues with the act.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for the district," Murley said. "The support means we provide will be in a far better position."

The current central office once served as Sabin Elementary, built in 1917. In 1979, it became an alternative high school. In 2005, students were transferred to Tate High, and the facility became the central office.

The Sabin building is not large enough to house the technology staff, professional development library, or library services — all of these resources are located in separate buildings around Iowa City.

The new site's extra space will allow the district to move various services, such as the technology center and food services, into one central building. This was a goal of the School Board's to increase convenience and to cut leasing costs.

"We'll look at options that would include [more space and reduced lease payments] and will look at how to do that most effectively," Murley in said in September.

The Press-Citizen building has been up for sale since last year; it had been a possible site for the Johnson County Jail.

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