Route 66 News

Albuquerque board approves ‘condotel’ plan for De Anza

The Albuquerque Development Commission on Thursday approved an $8.2 million plan to convert the long-closed De Anza Motor Lodge into a condominium and hotel hybrid, according to Albuquerque Business First.

It won out over four other proposals, including a $12.4 million plan by an investing group to turn De Anza into a boutique motel that found favor by residents and business advocates for the neighborhood.

Anthea @ De Anza will be spearheaded by Bill and Anna Smith of Construct Southwest and TLC Plumbing founder Dale Armstrong, among other stakeholders. The couple is in the midst of a similar project under construction in north Downtown— Anthea @ The Granite. The De Anza ‘condotel’ would include a restaurant headed up by Matt DiGregory, owner of the Range Cafe and Standard Diner. There will be other amenities as well.

According to KOB-TV in Albuquerque, the winning plan will have full-sized condo-style hotel rooms with full kitchens that rent out by the month, and the developers must keep most of the historic motel’s original elements, including its sign. In essence, De Anza would become extended-stay, corporate-style housing.

The Albuquerque Business First report said the condo/motel plan persuaded commissioners because all private money will be used and that the developers could start the project quickly. In fact, they hope to have De Anza reopened by the end of 2016.

The runner-up plan would have used a mix of private and public funding, which requires a lot more time to secure. This wasn’t mentioned in the report, but to earlier redevelopers of De Anza tried to use a public-private mix of financing but walked away because of the difficulties in getting that money. I’m sure, having been burned twice, commissioners were wary of another public-private proposal.

The plan still has to be approved by the city council. But since the panel’s recommendation typically carries a lot of weight, a rejection is unlikely.

Zuni trader and Indian art collector Charles G. Wallace built De Anza in 1939. The motel, at 4301 Central NE, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The site was used in at least one scene in the acclaimed television drama “Breaking Bad” and recently used as a shooting locale for a Tina Fey movie, “Fun House,” that will be released in 2016.

(Image of De Anza Motor Lodge by Paul Narvaez via Flickr)