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San Jose residents beg city to keep Century 21 theatres

The majority of the 27 speakers made an emotional plea to the San Jose city council to save the iconic Century 21 theatres.
March 19, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
There was a lot of emotion Tuesday night at San Jose's city council meeting. It's all over the city's domed theatres and whether they should be protected as historic landmarks, even after the owners shut them down at the end of the month.

Angry and sad voices filled the San Jose City Council chambers Tuesday night. They want city leaders to get on board with their vision to save the Century dome theatres on Winchester Boulevard. The focus of their pleas is on Century 21 -- a single movie screen theatre built in 1964.

"It's very significant both because of the building, and the history and the structure and architecture," said Brian Grayson from the Preservation Action Council of San Jose.

But the theatres owners are ready to sell them and get out of the movie business.

Property owner Joyce Raney said at the meeting, "We believe that with careful planning our property can once again be reimagined into a development that will serve the needs of our vibrant community."

Still, designating the theatre as a historical landmark could make it harder for future owners to demolish it. The state Historical Resources Commission will make the final decision next month, but the committee does want the city's input. Several council members aren't on board with the idea.

"Movie theatre is not very old, and not very historical. I think it's premature to give it a historic designation," said Mayor Chuck Reed.

The area is part of the city's larger plan for higher density development, but many long time theatre goers want the dome preserved and re-used.

"Maybe hold some concerts or some theatre shows, have this be a multi-use facility," said Lisa Giangreco, a San Jose resident.

In the end, the council voted 7 to 4 to not deem Century 21 a historical site. At least until a separate, local investigation is done.


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