TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 20 approved a pair of lease agreements with Visit Tucson and the University of Arizona Mineral Museum, who will occupy spaces in the iconic County Courthouse.
The University of Arizona Mineral Museum will lease a portion of the building for 15 years paying a total of $6,450,039, reimbursing the County for $4 million in tenant improvements to the space the Mineral Museum will occupy.
The lease agreement is part of an $11 million restoration project started by Pima County nearly three years ago to repurpose the Old County Courthouse at Church and Alameda, as a tourism attraction and destination. Also on the list for approval is a $5 million, 15-year lease for Visit Tucson to house its offices in the remodeled facility.
The East entrance to the courthouse will also house the January 8th Memorial.
For the museum, which was founded in 1892 and is currently housed in the basement of the Flandrau Planetarium on the university campus, it will provide an opportunity to showcase one of the most extensive mineral collections in the country.
The current museum is 4,000 square feet but the new site will be 20,000 square feet. At present, only about 15 percent of the collection is on display while the rest of it is in storage.
The mission will also change.
"Now we're not a mineral museum," said Bob Logan, a university spokesperson. "We're a gem and mineral museum"
The new location will also include a gem component, something it has not done before.
It will also up opportunities for collectors to display or donate their collections to the museum.
Logan says he has had a great deal of interest in that from several top quality and high end collectors.
The dollar value of the collection could exceed $500 million which means security at the courthouse becomes an issue.
"I can tell you the security that is going to be put in place here will be like none on this campus or Pima County building facilities," Loan said. "It will be an amazing security system."