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The Martinez City Council on Tuesday night gave the go-ahead to start the process of making the old train depot into a museum.

The city will begin negotiating with the Martinez Historical Society to enter a lease agreement for the Ferry Street property. The city obtained control of the building in 2001 — when the new Amtrak station opened nearby 601 Marina Vista Road — and has since used it for storage, also allowing Alhambra High School and other local non-profit groups to use it for the same purpose.

The original depot was built in 1877. Various uses have been discussed over the past two decades, including a restaurant and a ticket office for train tours. The building needs massive renovations.

Larry Myhre/Flickr The old train depot, built in 1877, on Ferry Street in Martinez, Calif. will be repurposed as a museum run by the Martinez Historical Society.

The historical society is asking for a lease agreement in order to start a fundraising campaign. It would use the 5,400-square-foot building as a nonprofit, regional museum and exhibition center. The lease agreement could also include a provision to house the Joe DiMaggio “Joltin’ Joe” boat display, an idea that historical society has supported in the past.

A city staff report for Wednesday’s council meeting said MHS has approached the city about a lease that would span at least 30 years, which it said would be necessary to properly fund the project. “Nominal” rent and a long-term agreement would make the project more attractive for facility rehabilitation and improvement grant opportunities, the report said.

The report didn’t mention any financial terms. The agreement will expire Dec. 31.

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