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[whitespace] UA Pavilion On With The Show: Downtown San Jose's defunct UA Pavilion Theater may be getting a new tenant soon, more than two years after it closed.


Public Eye

Theater of The Absurd

What's happening with the empty United Artists movieplex at the Pavilion in downtown SJ? Hard to say, but it's been a long time since anyone said anything about the fate of the empty eight-screen theater on Second Street. Next week marks two years since UA, after pouring $10 million into the failed venture, closed the place and skipped town in the middle of the night. A year ago, Redevelopment Agency boss SUSAN SHICK told Metro that the agency's plan, if nobody wanted to run a cineplex there, was to demolish the forbidding structure and erect a towering residential-slash-retail-slash-movieplex high-rise on the site (that plan was later deemed financially unfeasible). These days, the building's owner is still trying to lease the empty eyesore to a movie-house operator. Redevelopment owns the land, but the Pavilion building is owned by Forest City Enterprises, a Cleveland-based developer. In the last year, Forest City hasn't said much about what it plans to do with the building. But it's starting to sound like an announcement may be near. Says Forest City's LISA CHATHAM: "We won't announce anything on the theater building until we have a fully executed lease with the tenant, but we're working with someone and we hope to conclude it in the next 60 to 90 days." ... Shick tells Eye she can't talk about what's happening until Forest City is ready to say something. "It's really in their court," Shick reveals. "They've made a number of suggestions. We've given them feedback but they just haven't completed a transaction yet, and until they do they're just not going to make an announcement."

Rebecca Cohn
Rebecca Cohn

Cardoza Country

Assemblywoman REBECCA COHN is putting on a fundraiser at her Saratoga estate next week for Assemblyman DENNIS CARDOZA (D-Merced). He's the longtime friend of Rep. GARY CONDIT (D-Modesto) who announced in October that he would challenge his ex-pal's re-election bid. Cardoza is also the chair of the powerful Assembly Rules Committee, which can make or break a bill, so he's a good friend to have. Cohn's fellow South Bay assembly Democrats JOE SIMITIAN, ELAINE ALQUIST, MANNY DIAZ and JOHN DUTRA signed on as co-chairs for the Jan. 17 event. Doing a fundraising event in Silicon Valley is good news for Cardoza's campaign, which is picking up support from a lot of Democrats who presumably would like Condit to disappear quietly and not go on to lose his seat to a Republican in the general election. ... But Cohn says it's not about what a bad guy Condit is, it's about what a good guy Cardoza is. Cohn says she pitched the idea to Cardoza because he's been like a mentor to her, helping her get elected and find her way around the halls when she got to the Capitol. "I didn't hesitate to offer to help when I saw that he was running for Congress," Cohn says. "He's just a great human being. He'd be one of the last guys left on one of these Survivor shows." Simitian also says Cardoza "was helpful to me as a new member making my way through the thicket of rules." Helping put the event together is campaign finance attorney ASH PIRAYOU, a Cohn supporter and native of the Central Valley metropolis of Turlock. After meeting Cardoza through Cohn, Pirayou brought the assemblyman to Silicon Valley in October and introduced him to a handful of local political bigwigs. ... Cardoza campaign manager DOUG WHITE says they're trying to get a few members of Congress to drop in at the event, too, including ZOE LOFGREN, who has endorsed Cardoza. Tickets run $100 to $1,000, but White wouldn't say how much the campaign is hoping to take in at the event. "Anything is helpful," he reveals. "This is a race that a lot of people are watching, so one of the reasons that there's been such support for the event is because there are people out there who would like to see a change in who's representing the area in Congress."

Office Space Race

Should San Jose abandon its controversial and costly plan to build a new downtown City Hall and move into an empty office tower instead? That's what local developer JOHN SOBRATO is pitching to the mayor's office. Eye can reveal that Sobrato approached Mayor RON GONZALES and his lieutenant JOE GUERRA a few weeks ago, suggesting that the new office tower rising next to the convention center on Almaden Boulevard might make more sense. "We were proposing that our building be considered as the new City Hall because it will be completed this year, and it has the space that generally would accommodate the City Hall requirements," says Sobrato Development Co.'s JIM BLACK. "And therefore, it's available." The 17-story building, set for completion in December, will offer nearly 400,000 square feet of space, and the developer wants a

single-tenant occupant. But the idea didn't get much of a reception over at the old City Hall. "We told them 'Thanks for the inquiry,' and I asked the [Public Works] staff working on the City Hall project to look into it," Guerra says. "And that's pretty much the extent of it. It's an interesting concept, though it's a tad late given that six years ago we went through a community process to pick the site." The Cupertino-based developer's pitch even included building a rotunda on the site. But in the end, San Jose won't be considering the idea. Meanwhile, detailed plans for the downtown City Hall are due back soon from architect RICHARD MEIER. And once ex-Mayor AL RUFFO's lawsuit challenging the project can be ironed out, Guerra says, the first sets of bids should be ready to go out sometime this spring. ... With downtown office vacancy rates soaring, it's hard to fault Sobrato for pitching the idea. Sobrato, by the way, recently leased the empty headquarters of Metricom, the wireless Internet service that went Chapter 11, to another local government agency: Santa Clara County. County supervisors approved the lease in November. Starting in April, the two buildings on Julian Street at Highway 87 will become the new home to social services and a few other county departments that are currently leasing space at other locations around town.

Ballad of a Landlord

San Jose District 7 City Council candidate BOB DHILLON has been sending surveys to renters and homeowners in his district, asking a few relatively simple questions. The renters' survey asks how long recipients have rented, what kind of challenges they've faced and if they support rent control. No big deal. But Dhillon has a little of his own history as a landlord. Local political observers may remember him as a city Planning Commission nominee whose application for that post was initially rejected in 2000 because he'd been slapped with more than $7,000 in fees for code violations on one of his rental properties. Dhillon later got a seat on the commission, and still has it today. But Dhillon doesn't see much irony in the connection. Dhillon says his tenant was to blame because he was using the yard to store old cars and then, when neighbors complained, compounded the problem by building a fence around the cars--another violation. But the tenant claimed to have an approval for the fence, Dhillon says, and later stopped paying rent. "The tenant was hostile, and I had to evict him, but the eviction took longer than the time the city had given me to correct the problem."

Vice Job

There was more than the usual amount of tension in the air on Monday night when Palo Alto's newly elected nine-member City Council met to select the town's mayor and vice mayor. Despite the local custom of rotating the job to whoever is in the vice mayor spot, there had been some talk that outgoing Vice Mayor VIC OJAKIAN might be passed over as a penalty for coming in fourth place--behind two newcomers, no less--in the November election. But when the dust settled, Ojakian was the council's unanimous choice, with the real fight taking place between councilmembers DENA MOSSAR and BERN BEECHAM for the mayor-in-waiting slot. Beecham pressed his case all the way to the bitter end, withdrawing only after five council members declared their support for Mossar. Clearly elated by his victory, Ojakian's first official act was to demand that the audience applaud his wife, sister-in-law and nieces, among other relatives present. Ojakian also thanked his ancestors for his name, which, he noted, means "village head man" in Armenian. (It might be the last such election, by the way. Departing council veteran GARY FAZZINO is arguing that Palo Alto voters should directly elect their mayor next time around, which, incidentally, could give the termed-out HP executive another shot at wielding the city gavel.)

Ronny Cash

SJ Mayor RON GONZALES should be up to about $316,000 when he files his money forms this week for the period ending Dec. 31, according to campaign manager DUSTIN DEROLLO. "We're ahead of where we expected to be," DeRollo boasts. It's still less than half the $690,100 spending cap for the low-stakes primary, and probably about twice the combined total of what all the other seven political munchkins in the race have raised. DeRollo says the campaign has spent about $60,000 on startup costs, consulting, polls and other things. What the polls say, however, wasn't divulged to Eye.

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From the January 10-16, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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