Developer pitches plan to demolish old theater and build shopping center.

Final Curtain For Salinas Theater?: Final Stage: Century Park 7 in Salinas may soon close its curtains.

Sywest Development has big plans for the corner of Simas and East Market Streets in Salinas, where Century Park 7 theater now sits. The San Rafael-based company wants to raze the theater and erect a home-improvement store in its place.

Sywest President Robert Atkinson was expected to pitch the development idea to the Salinas City Council on March 7. At press time Atkinson was mum about the project, insisting that the City hear the plan first.

Atkinson’s proposal calls for an anchor home-improvement store of 138,000 square feet. An additional 32,500 square feet of other retail shops is planned for several adjacent acres.  

Before the bulldozers can descend on the theater, the property will need to be rezoned for retail use.

If approved by city officials, the project would be completed by late 2007.

The plan is good news to Erica Padilla-Chavez, executive director of the Salinas United Business Association. “This is an exciting time for us,” she says.

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Century Park 7 theater has struggled in recent years, showing second-run films while its sister theater, Century Salinas Northridge Mall 14, shows first-run flicks. Residents can get both—as well as foreign and indie films—at Maya Cinemas in Oldtown, just blocks away.

“That property and the theater aren’t doing too hot,” Padilla-Chavez said. “We’d hate to see that building close down, be boarded up, and become a breeding ground for graffiti. The fact that the owner is being proactive and not leaving the center empty is a good for Salinas. The tax revenue alone is enough to get excited about.”

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