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San Jose Roller Skating Rink Slated To Close, Marking End Of An Era

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- San Jose Skate, the South Bay's last remaining roller skating rink will close at the end of May.

The rink, formerly known as Golden State Roller Palace and Aloha Roller Palace, saw its popularity peak in the 1980s, entertaining families and hosting school functions for decades. But as disco's popularity faded, so too did interest in roller skating.

The property was purchased in January 2014 by Don Imwalle, of Imwalle Properties of San Jose.  Imwalle said the property was previously owned by The Health Trust, a non-profit.

During years of discussion and a failed attempt to rezone the land for residential use, the rink's fate was unclear. The rink's various owners were hesitant to invest in maintenance and upkeep, given the dramatic decline in demand for roller skating, and the strong demand for ice skating.

"There are more people skating now than ever before. But they're doing it on ice," said Don Imwalle, of Imwalle Properties.

After weeks of discussions between Imwalle and the current rink operator, they decided closing the rink was the only option. "It's not something either of us wanted to do. It's the only thing we can do," said Imwalle.

San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra agreed, saying fitness and entertainment trends come and go. "We have to change with the times. And I think in this situation this is not an activity where you're finding a lot of young people that are gravitating towards it," said Kalra.

The rink's closure will also force the Silicon Valley Roller Girls to find a new home. The local roller derby team, which has been practicing at the San Jose Skate for the past seven years, is crowd-sourcing their fundraising efforts for a new practice and competition venue.

"There's 50 skaters here, that if we don't find a solid, reliable space what will they do?  We'll probably have to disband. Being around for 7 years and running a non-profit organization, and for that to be the reason, is really, really sad, " said Lisa Baldiserri, Silicon Valley Roller Girls team member.

All may not be lost, however, since Imwalle said a team of real estate and business professionals are exploring renovating or converting another property into a similar, but smaller roller skating rink somewhere in the South Bay.

San Jose Skate will close at the end of the weekend of May 31. There are plans for a farewell party.

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