Hundreds of San Jose homes may sprout into former domed cinemas

SAN JOSE — Hundreds of homes could pop up at two San Jose sites that once operated domed cinemas and screened blockbuster movies, official documents show.

Syufy Enterprises, the longtime owner and operator of numerous Bay Area domed theaters, has submitted another proposal to build apartments on the property.

The company is proposing a development of more than 500 homes divided almost evenly across two San Jose lots.

For decades, San Rafael has owned and operated domed theaters at numerous Bay Area locations, including San Jose’s once-famous cinema complex with its distinctive space-age roofline.

Century 24 Cinemas is a sign at 741 South Winchester Boulevard in San Jose. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group)

Most of these theaters that Syufy operated were primarily located on San Jose’s Winchester Boulevard, near the site of the present-day Westfield Valley Fair and Santana Row mega mall. Most were demolished with bulldozers.

The locations in San Jose where Syufy Enterprises and its affiliate SyRES Properties have proposed housing projects and the number of homes envisioned are as follows:

  • Located at 741 South Winchester Boulevard, Unit 257 is the 3-acre site where Century 24’s domed cinema has operated for decades. Century 24 opened in his 1968 and was bulldozed in 2014, San Jose city documents show.
  • 252 units at 5655 Gallup Drive, the 3-acre site where the Century 5 Almaden Theater operated. Syufy currently leases the domed building to Menlo Church.

San Rafael-based Syufy Enterprises had previously proposed a project at the Century 24 site. In 2019, Syufy proposed a large health club on site. Just months later, the coronavirus outbreak erupted, plaguing the fitness center industry worldwide and in the Bay Area.

Currently, the economic turmoil caused by the new coronavirus has subsided. Demand for new homes in the Bay Area is higher than ever.

In both proposals, Syufy seeks to use the provisions of SB 330, a state law approved in 2019. This is intended to reduce the time to obtain approval for new housing developments, discourage local governments from imposing housing and population caps, and keep fees down.

The news outlet reached out to a representative at Syufy Enterprises on Thursday for comment on both proposals.

Both housing development proposals are at a very preliminary stage. That means property owners are trying to get feedback on how city politicians and city officials view their projects. Hundreds of San Jose homes may sprout into former domed cinemas

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