Route 66 News

UPDATED: El Vado Motel saved

A lot has happened since this story first emerged from Albuquerque on Wednesday. But it now seems certain that El Vado Motel has been rescued from the wrecking ball after nearly 2 1/2 years of uncertainty.

Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, under the headline “El Vado Saved,” touted this news release Wednesday night on the city’s Web site:

Today Mayor Chavez announced that the El Vado Motel has been saved from demolition and the City of Albuquerque has been granted access to the property to begin the preservation of the historic hotel that has been noted by many Route 66 historians as a treasure. “For anybody that understands the history of Route 66, this is one of the great facilities, great structures architecturally in the history of Route 66,” said Mayor Marty Chavez.

The City as well as dispatching inspectors to secure the property (fenced and boarded up) since recent vandalism had occurred, advanced a sum of $680,000 by the City of Albuquerque to the District Court Registry for the City’s purchase of the property. Both parties, the City and the property owner, will provide appraisals for the El Vado Motel.

“Today we work to protect our future by preserving our past,” stated Mayor Chavez.

Also, KOAT-TV reports that El Vado Motel “has been condemned and the city has take(n) control.” The Albuquerque Journal also reported briefly Wednesday that the city “took control” of the historic Route 66 motel.

This was a day that some of us thought would never come. When Richard L. Gonzales announced in October 2005 that he’d purchased El Vado and intended to demolish it for luxury townhouses, it looked quite grim. But a tenacious combination of Route 66ers, local preservationists and city officials kept that from happening.

I’ll have more reaction about this later. But for now, it’s a great day for Route 66.

UPDATE: Here’s a local report from KRQE-TV:


Here is the story in the original configuration:

KOB-TV reports that the City of Albuquerque has been given permission by a judge to gain access to El Vado Motel and stanch its deterioration.

Owner Richard L. Gonzales wanted to raze the historic Route 66 motel and build luxury townhouses.

Wednesday’s court ruling means that city crews can enter the property and begin securing it to prevent any further weather damage.

“For anybody that understands the history of Route 66, this is one of the great facilities, great structures architecturally in the history of Route 66,” said Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez.

The city and Gonzales have been attempting to negotiate a price for the city to purchase the property. If they can’t come to terms, a judge will determine it’s fair market value.

Unless something happens fast in settlement talks, it sounds like the city will take over possession of the property fairly quickly via condemnation and save it from the wrecking ball.

(Photo courtesy of Ace Jackalope.)


18 thoughts on “UPDATED: El Vado Motel saved

  1. Robin A. Albright

    This is so exciting to read! I am a preservationist enthusiast who has fallen in love with Route 66 and it’s motels and restaurants. I would dearly love to become a member in a rennovation/preservation project along it!

  2. 66 Tripper

    SAVED!!! This is fantanstic news. I took several pix on my Route 66 trip in 2007. Well, as good of pix that I could take thru a chain link fence. I was so glad that it was still there. Thanks to the Mayor & all involved in it’s preservation. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!

  3. Sal Paradise

    Guess saving the El Vado didn’t help Chavez keep his job. He recently was defeated for reelection and is now out of office. Although his El Vado actions didn’t get him run out, it did help solidify the impression many had, especially Republicans, that he was a tyrant and anti-business. The City Council still remains Democratic, which is good for the El Vado because they tend to have the ultimate say in such actions.

    Right now the key thing holding up any progress is the lack of any plans on what to do with the motel and the land it sits on. No one has any idea what to do with it. And, the current owner isn’t too pleased with things because he bought the property so he could flip it and make a few bucks.

    Central Ave is run down in segments and is getting worse. Standing out for Route 66 fans are the several motels from the old days sitting smack dabb in those run down areas. Central Ave has been targeted by many who want to tear down practically all of those old motels (and other Route 66 era placs like diners and restaurants) and replace them with the usual, California stock issue rehabs; shops, condos, expensive coops and apartments, upscale coffee joints and high end franchise stores, etc. As these things go the developers usually win out in the end. But, may back off for awhile if they meet enough resistance.

    Who knows how it will end up. My friends in town tell me that the area could use a change, but they’d like to see the old buildings reused in some way.

    1. Ron

      Interesting take. Having read a few articles after the election, I think Chavez was done in by the self-serving repeal of term limits. I honestly don’t think that El Vado was much of a factor, if any, in the election. Remember, at public meetings, the sentiment for preserving El Vado was very high.

  4. David Bales

    I hope that ABQ can broker a deal to save El Vato. I drive past it frequently and by all outside appearances looks salvageable.

  5. Howard

    I stayed at the El Vado for 2 years (!) when the previous owner rented rooms by the week, and it was a very cool place to live despite one’s misgivings about “living in a motel.” It was like a very nice dorm room, actually, with cable TV! I’m so glad that the building isn’t being demolished because it’s a really unique structure and there aren’t very many left anymore. Consider — it’s in OLD TOWN. It’s OLD. It belongs.

  6. Pasadena Adjacent

    I recently spent four days in Albuquerque where I stayed near old town. Instead of taking a left on Central, I took a right and came across the El Vado. Utterly charming. Please fix it and find a re-use for it. Also that old movie theater (?). The Kachina doll door!!

  7. 66'r

    I was thrilled to read that the El Vado will be saved! I drove Route 66 end-to-end in 1996, and while passing through Albuquerque, spent the night at the El Vado, mostly because of it’s historic significance as a Route 66 icon, but also because it just looked cozy and inviting. It remains a very fond memory of my trip, as I’m sure it does for all the travelers who made the El Vado their stay for the night on their journey.

  8. Thomas Moy

    As the incoming president of our alumni association I was planning to have a Route 66 senior trip starting in Albuquerque El Vado Motor Hotel, one of the first hotels in the nation to accommodate visitors in their motorcoaches. We had plannned to eat in one of the ’66 diners too. Looks like we’ll just fly into the city and seek accommodations in a small neon motel and diner out-of-town. Since we plan on staying at other ’66 facilities, it seems out of character and spirit to begin our Rt. 66 travel by staying at a big fancy hotel. Count me in as sad and sorry.

      1. Thomas Moy

        Ron, Thanks for the tip. It looks like a nice place to stay and it is located close to interesting things to do. Any opinion on seniors eating at the Frontier Restaurant? I believe it is frequented by college students.Tom

      2. Ron Warnick Post author

        I know the Frontier is a darned good place to eat. It’s big, and can handle a group. I also like Mr. Powdrell’s BBQ, 66 Diner, Garcia’s, and Lindy’s Coffee Shop.

      3. Thomas Moy

        I appreciate getting names of eating places from you. Right now a cup of coffee at Lindy’s Coffee sounds good to me.

      4. Chris D

        My wife, kids and I stayed at the Monterrey Nonsmokers hotel in late June 2012 and loved it. It was clean, affordable and had a nice pool. It also has a historic relationship with Route 66. It’s just steps away from El Vado. I hope they find a buyer to restore the El Vado soon. I took pictures. It was sad. Oh, Garcia’s is also a good place to eat.

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