Bill Kinder, co-owner and operator of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, N.M., for the past four years, has decided to place the historic Route 66 landmark for sale because of a recurrence of cancer.
Kinder and his wife Terri purchased the Blue Swallow in 2006. He was diagnosed with cancer shortly after, about the same time Route 66 artist Bob Waldmire exhibited symptoms of the disease. Waldmire ultimately died from his cancer in December 2009; Kinder believed he beat it after extensive treatments — until recently.
Kinder knew something had gone wrong with his health weeks ago.
“I just became weaker and tired-er,” he said by phone Thursday afternoon. “I was getting tired all the time. You just know (something is wrong).”
Kinder says he’ll close the Blue Swallow for the season in October, then undergo cancer treatment for at least four months. Kinder opted not to let Terri run it by herself while he’s being treated. “It’s fun, but it’s too much for one person,” he said.
They listed the Blue Swallow on the LoopNet real-estate site about two weeks ago. A longtime reader informed me about it.
The 12-unit motel is listed for $375,000. That’s significantly more than the $165,000 previous owners Dale and Hilda Bakke initially listed it for five years ago. But Bill and Terri have greatly increased the motel’s revenue by raising room rates, selling more souvenirs, and aggressively catering to motorcycle tours. The motel often boasts a 90 percent occupancy rate during Route 66 tourism season.
So confident is Kinder in the Blue Swallow’s money-making ability, he says he’s going to insist on a 30 to 35 percent downpayment if he finances the purchase — unless, of course, if someone buys it outright.
It probably won’t be a hard sell. The Blue Swallow is arguably the most treasured and well-known motel on Route 66. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Bakkes greatly boosted the 1939 motel in the eight years they owned it, and Bill and Terri made even more improvements and additions. The motel remains in terrific condition.
And the motel’s unique neon sign, distinctive architecture, and its storied history of longtime owner Lillian Redman will make it hard to resist.
Whoever owns the Blue Swallow won’t own just a motel. He or she will be owning a legend.