Former Film House of Historic Dome San Jose may appear in a new role

A former domed movie theater building from the 21st century at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, view from the south, concept. (Designed by TEF)

San Jose – A former historic San Jose movie house with a distinctive domed shape could debut with a new role under a very preliminary proposal being made at City Hall.

Renovation is planned for the iconic 21st Century Movie Theater at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, according to plans provided by Federal Realty Investment Trust, the developer and principal owner of the movie site, adjacent properties and the mixed-use destination village of Santana Row across the street.

“The proposed project is to renovate the existing 21st Century theater,” Federal Realty stated in the proposal. “This project will include an earthquake retrofit, new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, interior construction, the addition of skylights, and the addition of an interior ground level.”

Federal Realty officials note that this is a very preliminary proposal being brought up with San Jose officials and is a plan that may not necessarily become an actual development endeavor.

Interior design of a former 21st-century movie theater building at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, concept (TEF Design)
Interior design of a former 21st-century movie theater building at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, Concept. (Designed by TEF)

“We are beginning a process to obtain approvals to bring the building into a state where it can be reused in the future,” a Federal Realty spokesperson stated in the comments emailed to this news organization.

The real estate giant warned that the exact nature of this movie house’s end use is currently unknown.

“We do not have specific reuse plans for the building at this time,” a Federal Realty spokesperson said.

However, the real estate company described some potential future uses of the cinema complex, which has been closed for a long time, according to the proposal.

The renovations and upgrades will be done in such a way as to create a lot of flexibility for Federal Realty to choose a future role for the old building.

A cutaway view of a former 21st-century movie theater building at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, concept (TEF Design)
A cutaway view of a former 21st-century movie theater building at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, concept. (Designed by TEF)

According to the filing, “the design team will include provisions to accommodate the capacity to support office, kitchen, cafeteria, gymnasium, and small data center uses.”

Possible scenarios also envision a performing arts center or restaurant.

In the project description, Ryan Joyce Structural Design stated, according to the file, “The project will renovate the existing structure and transform it into a three-story space by adding two stories within the dome above the ground floor.”

Federal Realty envisions a building with a bright, airy and well-lit interior, according to the concepts embedded in the proposal.

Interior view of a former 21st-century movie theater building at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, concept.  (Designed by TEF)
Interior view of a former 21st-century movie theater building at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, concept. (Designed by TEF)

The proposal stated that “the new skylights, located in the center of the dome, on the circumferential edges of the second level, and above the entrance to the lobby, would provide a great deal of daylight to the interior.”

The Domed Theater was built in 1964 and is located near the famous Winchester Mystery House. For decades, the one-off Cinema Palace has shown blockbusters like the original trio of “Star Wars” movies as well as some “Indiana Jones” movies, as well as more recent movies like “Frozen.”

The theater closed its doors in 2014. That same year, the 21st Century Film House was designated a historic landmark in the city.

The entry area of ​​the vaulted former Century 21 Film Theater building at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, concept.  (Designed by TEF)
The entry area of ​​the vaulted former Century 21 Film Theater building at 3161 Olsen Drive in San Jose, concept. (Designed by TEF)

The vaulted building is located next to a brand new modern office building known as One Santana West. It is also adjacent to the locations of the future office buildings representing later phases of the Santana West complex. Santana Row is located across from South Winchester Boulevard.

Currently, the vaulted building has an area of ​​19,000 square feet, consisting primarily of 18,000 square feet on the ground floor and 1,000 square feet on the second floor where the exhibition booth used to be located.

The internal rebuilding effort that will produce three floors of the building is scheduled to total a total of 29,000 to 34,500 square feet, depending on the final configuration of the building’s interior.

The structure of the old movie house is expected to be woven into the fabric of the sophisticated 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,” according to the filing.

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