The company hopes to be free of its lease by the end of February, when control will return to the authority.
The council bought the building on Barker’s Pool last summer and offered to pay an unknown sum for a revamp and charge a peppercorn rent for 20 years in return for the retailer staying in Sheffield.
But the company closed the shop for good less than a year later, in June, with the loss of 299 jobs.
Negotiations about paying a penalty for breaking the lease agreement are ongoing.
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But both parties have confirmed it will not open in any form before Christmas and the five-storey building will stand in darkness.
Meanwhile, speculation is rife that it has structural and asbestos problems. And its services, including air conditioning, lifts and escalators, are old and out of date.
Some estimates put the cost of revamping the building at up to £20m - raising the possibility it would be cheaper to demolish and start again.
Kate Josephs, chief executive of Sheffield City Council, said: “The former John Lewis site has so much potential and several ideas and proposals will be considered for its future use. Our work to establish the full condition of the building is progressing well which will allow a better understanding of the viable options.
“In the New Year we’ll be going out to public consultation, to find out what is most important to the people of Sheffield, and a range of options will be put forward.”