ALAMEDA -- Representatives of the Pacific Pinball Museum have signed a letter-of-intent to restore the vacant Carnegie building across from City Hall as its new home, a move that will allow the museum to display additional machines and offer more programs than at its current Webster Street location.

The deal calls for the museum to finish the work that the city began to upgrade the historic building, including installing new electrical and plumbing, fire sprinklers and a heating and cooling system.

The project will also make the building, which has been vacant 15 years and once housed the main branch of the Alameda Free Library, complaint with federal disability access requirements.

"It is extremely important to our mission that we occupy a building of historical significance," Larry Zartarian, museum board president, said in a release Monday. "The 1902 Carnegie library is a testament to American education and an ideal location for the (museum) to educate visitors about art, science and history as related to pinball and its uniquely American heritage."

The city spent about $4 million on seismic upgrades and other renovations on the building at Santa Clara Avenue and Oak Street after the library moved out in 1998. Museum officials said they will need to raise $3.5 million over the next two years to finish the work.

The agreement worked out with city officials will provide the nonprofit museum with a 30-year lease for the building and property.

"The (museum) has been bringing people to Alameda for over 10 years and has established itself as a stable and imaginative nonprofit," Alameda City Manager John Russo said. "The prospect of having a pinball museum at the Carnegie is exciting and the City of Alameda looks forward to taking the next steps with (the museum) to make our common vision a reality."

Opened in 2001, the museum's collection includes nearly 1,000 pinball games, many dating from the 1930s through the 1950s. Just about 100 machines can be displayed at its current location at 1510 Webster St.

The Carnegie building will triple the museum's capacity, allow more space to display the games and exhibits, as well as to host community events, according to museum representatives.

The announcement that the Pacific Pinball Museum has signed a letter-of-intent caps a longtime effort by city officials to secure a tenant or use for the building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among the possibilities that were explored was using it as the city's building and permits center or as a location for the Alameda Museum.

The city received a library grant for the building in 1899 from Andrew Carnegie, one of the first three California cities to receive one of the grants.

The building, which has a basement, main level, a mezzanine and gallery, was dedicated on April 16, 1903. It was designed by William H. Willcox and John M. Curtis of San Francisco and built by Alameda-based Foster & Son at a cost of $30,842, according to city records.

For information about the Pacific Pinball Museum visit http://www.pacificpinball.org/.

Contact Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him at Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.

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