In less than a month, the Olentangy Local School District will get the keys to a 40,000-square-foot office building in Orange Township.

The Olentangy school board March 16 unanimously approved a five-year lease with MCTR Properties for the former Modern Medical Inc. office building at 7840 Graphics Way.

The district intends to move its central offices from Shanahan Middle School to the new building. The change would allow the district to renovate the empty offices at Shanahan into a dozen preschool classrooms and other flexible spaces.

The district will pay about $40,000 per month to rent the building for the first 30 months, after which the rent will increase to about $42,000 per month.

While the facility is a temporary home for the district's administration, it could become permanent.

"We have the option to purchase the building any time after three years," said Jeff Gordon, Olentangy's director of business management and facilities.

The lease agreement sets the minimum purchase price of the building at $4.5 million. The price could be set higher if appraisers determine the property to be more valuable.

The district followed a similar rent-to-own strategy with another building on Graphics Way in recent years.

Olentangy began renting the former home of Ohio State University's Delaware Center at 7774 Graphics Way in September 2014. The district purchased the building -- now the home of the Olentangy Academy -- last year after voters approved a levy package that also provided funding for the construction of the district's fourth high school.

The district could follow the same tack with the Modern Medical building. District officials have said Olentangy's next bond issue could fund the purchase of the building as well as construction costs for the district's 16th elementary school.

Olentangy officials began seeking options for additional elementary school space last fall after a facilities committee report found the district's elementary schools over design capacity by about 300 students as enrollment continued to grow. Officials viewed finding new space for preschool classes as a way to ease enrollment pressure at its existing schools.

"Given our continued long-term space needs, this agreement is our best option to address our ongoing capacity challenges," school board President Roger Bartz said in a statement. "It provides us with flexibility for the future while also addressing our existing needs as soon as the next school year."

The district intends to spend about $888,000 to update the Modern Medical building and the administrative offices at Shanahan Middle School for their new uses.

Gordon previously said the district could complete the renovations by the start of the 2017-18 school year, but noted it would be a "tight schedule."

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@TWGallick