City eyeing old theater site for auto mall

City officials are angling to turn the site of the 25-year-old Century Park 12 theater, a Bayside property the theater chain previously proposed converting to housing, into an auto mall.

Redwood City hired auto dealership consultants and an outside legal team Monday to help negotiate a deal with the Syufy family, who owns Century Theatres and the property, according to City Manager Ed Everett. He would like to see the city buy or lease the land, which sits on the east side of Highway 101 just south of the Whipple Avenue exit, to make room for a “mini auto mall.”

“We're going to start discussions and see what happens,” Everett said. He estimated that four dealerships could fit on the 14-acre theater site.

After Century Theatres announced plans to open its 20-screen cineplex in downtown Redwood City, the owners proposed building 600 apartments where the old theater stands. Those plans were tabled when city planners said they didn't think housing belonged in the primarily industrial zone, and Century shocked the downtown business community in February by saying it would keep Century Park 12 open after the downtown cinema opens.

Talks have not yet begun, but Century is interested in making money from that property any way it can, according to consultant David Irmer, who is also Century's developer for the downtown project.

“Century … intends to keep the land as a viable asset,” Irmer said. “But they would be willing to undertake a long-term commitment with the city so that the city could reach out to car agencies.”

The move is in keeping with Redwood City's long-term goal to establish downtown as a destination for retail. Many of its auto dealerships are currently located on Veterans Boulevard, skirting downtown, but new designs for the city's core would discourage those businesses in that location.

It could also be a tax boon for the city. In Burlingame, for example, which has an auto row on Highway 101 along with dealerships downtown, $3.8 million — more than 40 percent of the city's total sales tax collections — will come from auto sales this year, according to Burlingame Finance Director Jesus Nava.

bwinegarner@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be back inside Davies Symphony Hall on May 6 in a program for first responders featuring string works by Jean Sibelius, George Walker, Carl Nielsen, Caroline Shaw and Edward Grieg. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Symphony)
SF Symphony makes joyful return to Davies Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts program for first responders and community leaders

Students in an after-school community hub move quickly through a social circle as they play a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Parents scramble for ‘Summer Together’ spaces

City program offering free camps sees high demand, confusion over enrollment

Calfire (Shutterstock)
Wildfires burn around Northern California during first red flag weekend of the year

Firefighters around the region battled wildfires all day Saturday, starting less than… Continue reading

The Port of San Francisco, which controls much of the The City’s waterfront, faces potential layoffs due to a financial crisis caused by the pandemic. 
Steven Ho/
Special to S.F. Examiner
In a financial ‘crisis,’ SF Port officials lobby for stimulus funding

Looking to right their financial ship, Port of San Francisco officials are… Continue reading

Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting has expanded the range of people who can request a gun violence restraining order against someone. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Use of gun violence restraining orders continues to rise

For the fourth year in a row, the number of gun violence… Continue reading

Most Read