The closed Sun ‘n Sand Motel in Santa Rosa, New Mexico — best known for its huge, orange neon sign — has a new owner who hopes to reopen the Route 66 establishment sometime in 2017.
The Feb. 2 print edition of The Communicator newspaper, based in Santa Rosa, reports the new owner is Dipak Shah of Kadam Group in San Jose, California, which specializes in “identifying investment opportunities for buying looking to enter the hospitality industry,” and it cites 20 years of experience in that sector, according to its website.
The Communicator reached Shah by telephone, who said he is looking for contractors to bring the motel up to code.
Shah said the goal is to get the motel operating this year.
“You can say during 2017 for sure,” he said. “I will cost close to a half a million dollars, plus I have to get water, electricity, city permits … So let’s see how it works.”
The newspaper reported more than $11,000 in delinquent property taxes had been paid in November.
Less than two years ago, the Sun ‘n Sand had declined into an eyesore and a magnet for homeless people and scavengers.
The motel was built during the 1950s and remodeled about 1998, but it closed a few years ago.
Previous operator Moe Patel said the motel already needed renovations just before it closed, then a historically severe hailstorm July 3, 2013 — hail two feet deep in some parts of Santa Rosa — damaged the structure further.
The Sun ‘n Sand became part of a New Mexico Route 66 sign-restoration program in 2003.
An award-winning documentary produced about the program shows workers restoring and re-installing the big, Zia-influenced sign. You can view the 25-minute documentary here; the Sun ‘n’ Sand portion begins around the 9:10 mark.