After the Retro Dome had one last showing of “Raiders of The Lost Ark” at the Century 21 with 1,000 people in attendance, the iconic Century Domes has closed their doors after nearly 50 years. Without a historical landmark designation, the Domes are destined for the dustbin of history. My friend and I attended party, and, not surprisingly, we found ourselves in the front row because of the sold-out crowd. Beach balls were flying fast and furious as people knocked them about.
As the announcements got made, the booing and hissing got louder.
The Retro Dome people had a meeting with the Santana Row developer that acquired a 99-year lease—not a 50-year lease as previously reported—to redevelop the Winchester Boulevard property. The developer has no interest in preserving the domes, would demolish all the buildings (including the Flames Restaurant at the corner), and build another Santana Row II with more luxury stores and expensive housing. (The most popular audience rumor was that Bloomingdale and Saks Fifth Street will become anchor tenants.) If the any of the domes do get a historical landmark designation, the surviving domes will not remain as movie theaters and get retrofitted into something else.
Everyone, of course, got encouraged to contact the San Jose mayor and their council member to get a historical landmark designation for the Century Domes and reject the demolition permit that waiting for approval. The city, of course, would rather have the jobs, development fees and sales tax revenues that comes from a big project like this. Given the choice between preserving the a historical building and adding to the city’s bottom line, San Jose doesn’t have a good track record in saving old buildings that aren’t historical landmarks.
As for “Raiders of The Lost Ark,” this wasn’t my first time seeing it on the big screen. I saw the IMAX version that came out in 2012. But I really enjoyed watching the movie on the big screen at Century 21, as it has the special magic that the IMAX lacks. The audio system packed an incredible wallop with each gunshot, reminding me how the explosions from some movies can rattle my lungs. Since Borders closed at Santana Row in 2011, my friend and I have gone to other theaters with better hangout spots. We haven’t realized how much we have missed the Century Domes until this final showing.