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Dome cinema in San Jose could find new uses

Federal Realty Investment Trust CEO Donald C. Wood and renderings of San Jose Century 21 at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose (TEF Design, Federal Realty)
Federal Realty Investment Trust CEO Donald C. Wood and renderings of San Jose Century 21 at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose (TEF Design, Federal Realty)

The dome cinema in San Jose, which has shown blockbusters like the original “Star Wars,” is expected to be renovated. The question is: what for?

The owner of the landmark Century 21 cinema building at 3161 Olsen Dr. has submitted a proposal to renovate the 58-year-old landmark for adaptive reuse — with no specific purpose in mind, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The Federal Realty Investment Trust has unveiled plans to renovate the historic West San Jose movie theater that closed in 2014. The developer also owns lots next door and the mixed-use village of Santana Row across the street.

A rendering of the interior (TEF Design)
A rendering of the interior (TEF Design)

“The proposed project is the renovation of the existing Century 21 Theater,” Federal Realty said in the proposal. “This project will include a seismic upgrade, new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, interior finishes, addition of skylights and addition of an interior floor.”

The proposal is preliminary and could change, officials at the Maryland-based real estate investment trust, which invests in malls, said. The renovations would be done to give Federal Realty flexibility to choose a future role for the historic building.

The real estate company outlined potential future uses for the long shuttered cinema complex, including a performing arts center or restaurant. According to the filing, the designers would include support for offices, kitchens, cafeterias, gyms, and small data centers.

“We are beginning a process to obtain permits to bring the building to a condition where it can be considered for reuse in the future,” a Federal Realty spokesman said in an email to the newspaper . “We currently have no concrete reuse plans for the building.”

Federal Realty envisions a building with a light, airy, and well-lit interior, in accordance with the concepts contained in the proposal. New skylights in the center of the dome and around the edges of the second level and above the lobby entrance would bring plenty of natural light to the interior.

“The project will renovate the existing structure and convert it into a three-story space by adding two stories within the dome above the ground floor,” explained Ryan Joyce Structural Design in a description of the project.

The dome building covers a total of 19,000 square feet, with 18,000 square feet on the ground floor and 1,000 square feet on the second floor where the projection booth was located. An interior reconstruction would yield three stories, creating an area of ​​29,000 to 34,500 square feet.

The San Jose Century 21 opened on November 24, 1964 with “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” A year after its closure in 2014, it was declared a historic landmark of the city.

The dome building is now adjacent to a new office building called One Santana West and future phases of the office complex. Santana Row is across the street. The old movie theater is expected to be integrated into the developing Santana West campus at the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Olsen Drive.

“Federal Realty intends to develop this historic building as part of a 13-acre mixed-use commercial development,” the filing reads.

[San Jose Mercury News] – Dana Bartholomew

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