Route 66 News

It’s demolition, not salvation

This report from KOB-TV about the demolition of the abandoned State Fair Mercado Motel on Central Avenue (aka Route 66) in Albuquerque irked me a bit.

Listen, I understand that Route 66 tourism remains a cottage industry, and that only so many vintage motels can operate in the Duke City.

I also realize that a few of those old Central Avenue motels have to come down. If these structures deteriorate to a certain, inexorable point, you raze them and hope a vibrant business replaces it. I want vintage motels to be preserved, but I also have to be pragmatic about the issue.

But the mayor and local media should realize that tearing down one of those old motels also is a loss. The Mercado wasn’t just an “eyesore.” It served as a window of Albuquerque’s past, and to the city’s Route 66 culture.

The city should forge an equal, two-tiered strategy of new development and preservation of historic structures. Revitalization doesn’t always have to come in the wake of a bulldozer. In fact, you could make a strong argument that using historic structures would lead to stronger and more-distinctive revitalization.