SAN JOSE -- Following the city of San Jose's decision to grant historic status to the domed Century 21 movie theater, the developer of a project at the site said Wednesday it has fashioned alternate plans that could accommodate preservation of the 50-year-old cinema building.
"We always knew from the get-go that it was possible that the Century 21 theater building could be given historic status," said Collette Navarrette, director of marketing with Santana Row, a nearby retail, restaurant, office, hotel and residential that is owned by the developer, Federal Realty.
Federal Realty has signed a lease that allows it to develop the 11.6-acre theater site, which is on Winchester Boulevard across the street from Santana Row and adjacent to the Winchester Mystery House.
"We remain very excited about the possibilities," Navarrette said. "The alternatives would benefit Santana Row and the community in the area."
Federal Realty declined to offer details of its plans. Nor did it say when it might submit those plans to San Jose city officials.
The property is designated "urban village" by the city, so office towers or high-density retail, or both, would likely have to be included in the project, real estate brokers said Wednesday.
Federal Realty obtained the lease from a group of families that owns the land beneath the theater site and parking lot. The families also own the Winchester Mystery House property.
"It will still be possible to develop this site, but this decision definitely makes it more difficult," said Keon Vossoughi, a vice president with Meacham/Oppenheimer, a commercial realty brokerage that specializes in retail sites.
The Century 21 dome theater has a footprint of roughly 1 acre, according to people familiar with the 11.6-acre property. Realty brokers said San Jose's decision to grant the theater historical status will erode the property's value and undermine the income the site will generate.
"When the site is developed, on part of it, you will have a modern, beautiful, state of the art development, and then on another part, you will have this old, 1960s-era theater," said John Machado, an executive president who specializes in retail property with Colliers International, a commercial realty firm. "This decision doesn't make any sense."
Brokers pointed out that dome theaters are being bulldozed in other cities, including Pleasant Hill, where one was replaced with a Dick's Sporting Goods store,
Supporters of the Century 21 theater say they have fond memories of the cinema complex, including seeing first run showings of blockbusters such as "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones."
"Help us prevent the tragic loss of another piece of our midcentury history," said a Facebook page devoted to the preservation of dome theaters in San Jose, including the Century 21 building.
The domed theater may also be given preservation status by the state Historical Resources Commission, which is expected to make a decision on the matter this summer.
Brokers said it is possible the developers could use the domed building in ways other than for showing movies as long as they preserve the structure.
"This location is the best infill property in San Jose, hands down," Vossoughi said.
Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow him at Twitter.com/georgeavalos.