San Jose's Historic Landmarks Commission kicked off what should be a lengthy process to determine if a large parcel on Winchester Boulevard -- which contains the Century 21, 22 and 23 domed theaters and the Flames coffee shop -- should be granted city landmark status.
The decision will ultimately rest with the City Council, but there's a lot of document archaeology and research to be done. Historians will be involved, and it's very likely that the structures or land under consideration will be dramatically limited as a result of the process. Generally, structures must be 50 years old before they can be granted landmark status, and only the Century 21 theater -- built in 1964 -- would pass that test.
And then there's the question of whether the theater is historic enough to alter the property owner's rights to demolish it and redevelop the site, which appears to be the parcel's near-term future. The Century 21 is one of the last remaining examples of a large, single-screen theater built during the Space Age with enough seats for an audience of nearly 1,000 people and a screen that would dwarf those in most of today's cineplexes. Countless residents of San Jose and its surrounding communities -- and I'm among them -- have fond memories of seeing big-screen blockbusters there, whether it was "2001" or "Star Wars" back in their days or the new Disney hit, "Frozen."
But Michelle Bevis, a member of the Farris and Raney families that own the property, told the commission on Thursday that not even her grandfather, Vincent Raney, who designed the iconic theater, would argue for granting it landmark status.
"He understood that community needs to continue to evolve and that buildings have a life span," she said. "We believe the theater has had a long and wonderful life but that the functional and cultural needs of the community have evolved, not to mention the way in which people watch movies has evolved."
With the demolition of Pleasant Hill's CineArts dome last year and the Century 25 at Westgate this month, preservationists are definitely feeling a sense of urgency to save at least one dome. It'll be interesting to see how the process unfolds.
ENTREPRENEUR CENTRAL: San Jose may not have Google buses ticking everyone off, but the city's still got some entrepreneurial cred. Last Thursday, Kailesh Karavadra, managing principal of Ernst & Young in San Jose, was joined by Ernst & Young LLP partner Ernie Cortes and Mayor Chuck Reed to kick off the 28th annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards in search of the top entrepreneurs in Northern California. Past winners include Reid Hoffman and Jeff Weiner for LinkedIn and Sergey Brin and Larry Page for a little search engine company in Mountain View you might have heard of.
'VOICE' STAR IN SAN JOSE: Rudy Parris, the singer-songwriter who made a nice splash on "The Voice" a couple of seasons back, has two cool gigs coming up in San Jose this week. On Thursday night, he'll be appearing with his trio at the Poor House Bistro. Then on Saturday night, he'll be among the performers at the CreaTiVe Awards.
The show, taking place at the California Theatre in downtown San Jose, honors the Bay Area's best videomakers as well as actor Ed Asner (who'll be receiving the Leigh Weimers Media Champion Award). Tickets are available at www.creatvsj.org.