Members of the Pleasant Hill Architectural Review Commission were faced with one fundamental question at the Thursday meeting: is the "dome" theater worth saving as a historical and cultural icon in the city?
The answer, they decided, is "no."
Plans to demolish the CinéArts theater as part of the redevelopment of the Crossroads Shopping Center were approved, with three members of the commission agreeing to SyWest's project proposal. The fourth — Vice Chair John Hart — dissented.
"I hate to see the 'dome' go, but I understand the developer's desire here," said Hart, who added that he has been watching movies at the theater since 1972. "I'm going to miss it."
"I've never liked the 'dome'," said Commissioner George Corrigan. "To me, it was always a mid-60s marketing gimmick. It was fun while we had it, but it's not something we should preserve."
Instead, the commission backed the idea of commemorating the "dome" in the development design, such as through a tiled mural on the wall of the new Dick's Sporting Goods building that would depict the domed structure. SyWest's newly submitted plan for dome-shaped arches and trellises was rejected by the commission, and the developers were instructed to explore alternative memorial ideas, which would need to be approved before occupancy.
Ahead of Thursday's public hearing, more than 2,000 public comments were received and included in the staff report. Three speakers also addressed the commission during the meeting in support of keeping the "dome."
A formal appeal to the city's public planning commission closes April 8 in time for the April 9 meeting. Fans of the 'dome' hope that the city can save it from destruction by opting to protect it as a local historical landmark. A consulting firm hired by the city deemed that the "dome" did not meet requirements for preservation as part of the California Register, which mandates that buildings must be more than 50 years old or of "exceptional importance." Pleasant Hill's "dome" is 46 years old.
If development plans move ahead unhindered, Pleasant Hill's "dome" theater will be torn down at the end of this month.