San Jose looks to sell land used by theater company, movie theaters, fire station


SAN JOSE (Bay City News Service) — The sites of the San Jose Stage Company, Camera 12 theaters, a landmark former fire station and a complex in Japantown are on a list of 31 properties owned by San Jose that officials have proposed be sold to the highest bidder.

The properties recommended for sale are among 89 parcels owned by San Jose’s Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency that is required to report to the California Department of Finance about its land holdings by the end of February, agency managing director Richard Keit said.

Under a state law passed in 2011 that dissolved redevelopment agencies all over the state, the city can transfer to itself former redevelopment parcels used for government purposes and retain those under contract but the rest have to be sold to those offering the highest prices, Keit said.

“The idea is to wind down the agency,” Keit said.

“Unless (the price) is not in line with the fair market value, we have to sell it,” Keit said. “We are required to maximize the value of property and assets.”

In the case of the San Jose Stage Company, which has had its theater at the city-owned 490 S. Fourth St. site since 1992, it would be up to the eventual new owner what to do with it, Keit said.

“Someone could demolish the building,” Keit said. “We don’t like to see that as a city, but we didn’t want to see the end of redevelopment either.”

The theater, as a non-profit group, was given very inexpensive access to the 19,320-square-foot parcel by the former redevelopment agency at only $1 a year, but the lease expired March 2013 and has been extended month to month, according to city officials.

The city has estimated the value of the theater property is about $1.2 million, city officials reported.

“Hopefully (the stage company) will have the wherewithal to buy the property,” Keit said.

That is the hope, according to the theater’s executive director Cathleen King.

“We’re working with the city on trying to purchase it,” King said.

“We’re confident that the city is invested in us and our best interest,” King said. “We’re a professional theater company and a community asset.”

The 200-seat theater, which does five or six productions a year and is in rehearsal with 14 actors for “The Threepenny Opera” to begin Feb. 7, is going to raise funds “through our corporate sponsors, foundations and private individuals,” King said.

Other city-owned sites that are being recommended for the sale includes more than 39,000 square feet of ground beneath the Camera 12 movie theaters at 201 Second St., which is leased by F.C. Pavilion LLC and subleased by Camera Cinemas LLC.

Camera Cinemas, based in San Jose, has its sublease until 2022 and F.C. Pavilion’s lease goes to 2041, both of which would have to be honored by the new owner, Keit said.

The value of the Camera Cinemas property, based on the ground lease, is $575,000, according to the city.

At 280 Jackson St. in San Jose’s Japantown, the city is proposing selling the ground lease to a 109-unit housing complex with retail that the city now charges only $1 a year in rent, Keit said.

City officials said that lease could be worth $5 million but volatile organic compounds from petroleum that leaked underground would have to be removed first, which would take up to two years.

The old San Jose Fire Station Number 1, at 201 N. Market St. downtown, is also potentially on the chopping block, even though it has been designated as a city historic landmark, Keit said.

The fire station property, more than 19,000 square feet, has a value of about $1 million, according to the city.

The city is retaining for government use the Billy de Frank LGBT Community Center, at 938 The Alameda, and the South Hall of the San Jose McEnery Convention Center downtown, Keit said.

San Jose is also holding onto five parcels valued at $6.9 million next to the San Jose Diridon train station due to a right of purchase contract with the owner of the Oakland A’s for a possible future baseball stadium, Keit said.

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