City approves five-year lease agreement for Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum of Montana has another five years in their current location, which is a city owned building.

City Commissioners unanimously approved an updated lease agreement with the CMOM for 22 Railroad Square, which is a building behind the Civic Center.

Children’s Museum lease likely to be renewed for five years; museum looking for new home

There was no public comment on the lease agreement during Wednesday’s meeting.

The museum had been subletting the basement of the building, which requires notifying the city, and Commissioner Bill Bronson asked if that issue had been resolved since in earlier discussions it was mentioned that the city hadn’t been notified of the sublease.

City Manager Greg Doyon said that had been resolved and that the museum is continuing to sublet a potion of the building.

“Quite frankly, they need the revenue,” Doyon said.

The museum has leased the space since September 1997, according to city records, and on Dec. 2, 2003, the commission approved at 15-year lease that included an automatic five-year renewal. The original lease required the museum to pay all utility costs, maintenance and repairs of the building and its systems.

The lease rate was $1 per year and the city’s proposed updated lease agreement for the remaining five years retains the $1 in annual rent.

Doyon has said on numerous occasions during budget discussions and other public meetings that after the five-year renewal term, he will recommend that the city take the building back for office space for various city departments.

Over the years, city departments have been running out of space in the Civic Center and the Municipal Court has been asking for a second judge to help handle the heavy case load. With another judge comes the need for additional courtroom space, which is currently unavailable in the building. In several meetings, the legal staff has discussed the need for more staff and more space. Currently, the legal department is spread in various offices throughout the Civic Center.

The planning department is also spread on various levels of the building.

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The city retained the services of an architect to rework space in the Gibson Room and renovate the office areas for the legal and human resources departments. Commissioners rejected use of the Gibson Room and “there are no other areas within the building that could be feasibly renovated without encroaching into the Gibson or Missouri Rooms or the Convention Center,” according to the staff report.

The building currently occupied by CMOM “is needed to provide additional office space for city administration. Use of the building makes sense because the city already owns it and it is located adjacent to the city’s administrative center/campus,” according to the staff report. Use of the building “also allows the city to address space needs without additional encroachment of other commonly used areas in the Civic Center and eliminates the need to build an addition.”

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According to Doyon’s staff report, he’s recommending renewal of the lease for five years “with the understanding that the CMOM will pursue other location options.”

Over the summer, the museum launched a $3.5 million fundraising campaign to purchase, renovate and relocate to a new building.

In December, the museum posted a job vacancy for its executive director position.