YouZeum negotiations remain under wraps

Wednesday, August 18, 2010 | 7:28 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Mum’s still the word for Columbia College’s proposed plans to use the U.S. federal building located at 608 Cherry St. in downtown Columbia, currently home to the Youzeum, a science-themed interactive children’s museum.

The Department of Education requires that the building be used for educational purposes, though its specific uses are negotiable.

Joanne Tedesco, a spokesman for Columbia College, said the college submitted a proposal to the Department of Education in late July.

Those plans have not yet been made public.

Tedesco said what the college uses the building for "depends on what’s going on with the Department of Education."

A decision on whether Columbia College gets to use the building could be imminent.

“The (U.S. Department of Education) expects to make a determination of eligibility in approximately two weeks,” said David Thomas, the department's public information officer in an email. 

Columbia College first expressed interest in the building in mid-June when Gerald T. Brouder, Columbia College president, released a written statement announcing negotiations between the college, the YouZeum Board and the Department of Education.

Brouder’s announcement was released approximately one week after Columbia Public Schools offered $750,000 for the space, but rejected the YouZeum’s counteroffer of $900,000.

The YouZeum was expected to serve about 60,000 visitors annually, but since its opening on May 1, 2008, the YouZeum has only had around 40,000 visitors, according to a June 11 Missourian report.

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