A guest column in the Monday edition of the Albuquerque Journal suggests the redevelopment of the historic De Anza Motor Lodge stalled because a city agency overruled an independent panel’s recommendation for the property.
John Bloomfield said the city should have followed the recommendation to hire NewLife Homes to rejuvenate the Route 66 property. NewLife guided the rebirth of the Luna Lodge into low-income housing and recently started renovating the Sundowner Motel for a similar reuse. Both motels are on Route 66.
Meanwhile, current De Anza developer Rob Dickson has seen multiple delays, including one that may endanger the entire project. A previous developer for De Anza bailed after several years of little activity.
The De Anza would have been developed by now if the recommendation from the independent selection panel, tasked with reviewing and ranking developer proposals, had not been overturned by the Albuquerque Development Commission. […]
The independent selection panel ranked nonprofit developer NewLife Homes first, with the highest score. The lowest score went to the developer who was recommended by the Albuquerque Development Commission. Given the issues and delays this particular developer had with prior city-funded projects, it is not surprising that the De Anza continues to sit idle.
Projects like the De Anza have had a history of for-profit developers promising, but not delivering, and going back to the city for more funds.
This begs a question: Why did the Development Commission ignore the panel’s findings and choose a lesser applicant to renovate De Anza?
Zuni trader and Indian art collector Charles G. Wallace built De Anza in 1939. The long-vacant motel, at 4301 Central NE, is on the National Register of Historic Places.