New life for the Center Theater/Park Theater

From the Argus headquarters on Fremont Boulevard, I’ve seen lots of changes to the Park Theater. In fact, the marquee doesn’t even say Park Theater anymore. As you can see below, it’s now an Afghan Cultural Center, and it’s also soon to be the home of an Afghan television station.


The first big performance will be next weekend by this gent:


I’m supposed to talk to the new folks in charge on Monday, so I’ll have a better idea then as to their plans and whether there’s any shot that they’d sell to the city, which still wants to turn the theater into a community arts center.

Matt Artz


  1. It is a single screen movie theatre and should stay that way. Hasn’t anyone who comes up with the dumb ideas to “improve” Fremont ever been to a town or neighborhood where people enjoy going to and strolling around?

    There are plenty of crappy buildings in Centerville that the city could actually improve by turning it into a community arts hangout or whatever type thing.

    A movie house attracts people who are inclined patronize neighboring restaurants and shops.


    Without that theatre, what do we got?

    I don’t know, the only reason I go into that side of town is to catch the train out.

  2. I use to love going to the Center theater back in the days.. the area has some historical buildings and that BIG empty lot down by Thornton ave.. Fremont blew it by not taking advantage of it..

  3. The two reasons I frequent Centerville are Dale Hardware and Cabrillo Cafe. Suju’s Coffee Shop is also quite popular.

  4. Livermore’s Main Street is a good example to emulate.

    One long street; Two smaller movie houses (one of which actually plays a few non-blockbuster films); surrounded by shops and places to eat.

    They widened the sidewalks, narrowed the street, built a free parking garage nearby, put in more trees, a few nice looking lights…

    It’s not that hard.

  5. Andrew- for some reason everything seems to be hard for Fremont. Livermore is a good example for Centerville. Come on Fremont officials.. Why dont you give as much attention to Centerville as Irvington.

  6. TonyG, Fremont’s problem is too many districts all vying for city redevelopment dollars. The districts really don’t want a city center because that redirects funding away from their pet projects (Niles Town Center). Kind of like Cinderella’s step sisters all hoping to be the one the prince will pick.

    Fremont city leaders seem to be quite adept at approving the development of housing, low income and otherwise. Hmmm, I wonder why that would be?

  7. I think the Center Theatre is a Classic Example of Fremonts lack of Leadership or Direction.

    Thank you Mayor Wasserman and fellow Council Members.
    You once again have proven your incompetence.

    Voters of Fremont, you voted for them , now live with it!

  8. VOR, First there were two redevelopment districts, Irvington and Niles. The tax increment made great improvements in each of those areas including the shopping center in Irvington where Safeway is, the Monument Park, improvements in streetscape and traffic flow, and most recently, a great improvement on Bay Street.

    There was not as much increment available in Niles, but much was done in the way of facade improvements, parking, signage, and the plaza.

    Then we added Centerville, knowing there was not sufficient tax increment to do much, but there was much to do. With the advent of the Industrial Area RD district, we had a lot of increment available and we merged all four of the districts into one. That allowed funds to clean up Centerville.

    One of the classic uses of redevelopment is the consolidation of property. With many owners, it is difficult to create anything “grand”, so RD procures the properties and consolidates them into one, permitting a project which wouldn’t have been possible without the consolidation. In Irvington, we acquired the various parcels, consolidated them and then sold the whole property back to the original owners, who worked with a developer to put the center on the site. A win for all.

    Centerville has foundered for a variety of reasons. It has been acquired, consolidated, cleared, and is ready for development. I think it has become a victim of unrealizable goals from the council and ocmmunity, coupled with an unfortunate selection of the initial developer. People would love a grocery store there, but the major players are represented already fairly closely and the stores don’t see a population density to support a grocery store.

    One of the tools stores use to decide feasibility of a location is a simple compass. Place the point on the site and the pencil on the closest existing store, then draw the circle. Your trade area is inside that circle. Google map the Centerville site and draw the circle with a radius to Brookvale Shopping center. You will see lots of open areas or non-residential. Grocery stores won’t come where there is no easy market.

    I taped two cable TV shows on redevelopment for the League of Women Voters. The first concerned Union City and talked a lot about the purpose and use of redevelopment. The second concerned Fremont and talks about how the process has worked over time here. The videos are posted on the League web site.

    As for the Livermore (or substitute Pleasanton, Palo Alto, San Carlos, etc.), it is orders of magnitude easier to take an existing downtown and improve it than it is to create one where none has existed before. I love all the downtowns I mentioned, but we don’t have the basic requirement to do what any of them have done, a starting point. And, remember, the city doesn’t build it, an investor does.

    As I have said here before, wishing will not make it so.

  9. Gus –

    There are SOOO many instances I can think of off the top of my head that so obviously conflict with your “simple compass” rule that I have to respectfully question what the heck is the point of your assertion.

    I can personally think of at least two instances where – coincidentally – Whole Foods resides within a few hundred yards of the local Safeway (in Redwood City) – and, in San Ramon sits 1 mile from the local Nob Hill Foods. . . . so, with those two examples in mind – what is it that we can’t do in Centerville and why ???

  10. Thanks for the input Gus. Good insight into the process used for redevelopment. I think Centerville’s problem centers around demographics. In fact that was mentioned a couple weeks back in one of the other threads. Major marketers don’t see the area having upscale potential.

    I don’t know what the latest use of the Park Theater will bring, but it appears a theme is developing that reinforces the Little Kabul nickname for the district. Like it or not it’s a trend based on the demographics of the area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *