The Sundowner Motel, a Route 66 lodging establishment in Albuquerque where Bill Gates and Paul Allen lived while starting Microsoft, will reopen to the public Tuesday after a $5.4 million renovation into apartments, reported the Albuquerque Journal.
Developer NewLife Homes, which has refurbished other Route 66 motels in Albuquerque into housing, is holding a grand opening at 11 a.m. Tuesday. NewLife officials invited Gates and Allen to the event, but they declined.
The newspaper said:
Built in 1959 and opened in 1960, the Sundowner already had fallen on hard times due to the opening of Interstate 40 when Allen and Gates took lodging there in 1975.
The motel is a couple of blocks away from the Cal-Linn Building, where the pair worked at the office of MITS, maker of the Altair personal computer.
Among the festivities Tuesday will be a representative from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science who will talk about the Microsoft founders and their link to the Sundowner. The museum has a permanent exhibit about Albuquerque’s roots in the personal-computer revolution.
The Sundowner’s 71 units are for lower-income residents, with about a quarter of the apartments set aside for those with special needs.
NewLife also renovated the historic Luna Lodge, another Route 66 motel in Albuquerque, into housing.
New Mexico has seen a small but welcome trend in adapting old Route 66 motels. The Stage Coach Motor Inn also in Santa Fe is being transformed into lower-income housing. And the Nob Hill Motel in Albuquerque was reused into an office complex.
Albuquerque in particular is saturated with motels along Central Avenue. So it’s good that the city is trying to find other ways to use them, instead of tearing them down.
UPDATE 5/20/2014: KOB-TV in Albuquerque filed this report from the motel’s reopening: