ALAMEDA -- Representatives of the USS Hornet Museum have given the city a check for $215,385, an amount that will allow the museum to clear the back rent it owes the city.
The payment comes as a result of a lease that city officials approved with the Hornet Foundation five years ago, when they agreed to write off the $555,000 that the aircraft carrier museum then owed in rent if it could pay half the amount.
"We appreciate the city of Alameda's commitment to working with us," said Randall Ramian, the foundation's CEO. "While the Hornet still faces challenges, this is a significant milestone for us and the city in building our longer-term relationship. Alameda continues to be a great partner."
Known as the "Old Grey Ghost," the USS Hornet has been a floating museum at the former Alameda Naval Air Station since October 1998. The ship saw fierce action in the Pacific during World War II and served as the prime recovery ship for the Apollo 11 and 12 lunar missions.
"We hoped the Hornet would make the goals as laid out in their lease and are thrilled to see them succeed," Mayor Marie Gilmore said. "We want all of our tenants to be successful and thrive, and this clean slate should give the Hornet Foundation the boost it needs to build a future in Alameda."
City officials announced that they had received the rent payment on Monday. While the Hornet has a storied past, the sluggish pace of redevelopment of the former Navy base has meant the museum has not attracted the kind of passing foot traffic it would pull if it was located at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf or at Jack London Square in Oakland.
The museum's financial struggles led city officials to lower the rent on several occasions, dropping it from the original $27,000 a month when the museum opened to the current $36,000 annually.
In September 2011, the Weyford Family Foundation of Texas awarded a $100,000 matching grant to the museum so that it could review possibly moving to another city. Hornet officials underscored, however, that the grant was simply to help explore what it would take to relocate and that there were no plans to actually leave Alameda.
Museum representatives also said they would need to overcome many hurdles to move to San Francisco, including rallying political support from leaders across the bay and finding a suitable location for the vintage ship. It is 893 feet long and displaces 33,100 tons.
According to the museum's annual report, revenue totaled about $2.8 million in 2012, while expenses totaled about $2.7 million.