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Route 66 News

Long-closed Inn of Amarillo soon will be torn down

The city of Amariilo likely will be on the hook financially to demolish the long-closed and squalid Inn of Amarillo, also known the Holiday Inn West or the Vic-Mon Motor Hotel.

A big problem for the city is the cost to raze the structure — about $800,000 on the low side. The price is so steep, the city had put demolition plans on hold several times since condemning the property in 2010.

It’s been a place where a person was beaten to death and a homicide victim’s body was dumped. Police constantly are chasing off vagrants, and illicit drug use remains rampant in the nooks and crannies of the property at 601 W. Amarillo Blvd. (aka Route 66).

But, as the Amarillo Globe-News describes it, the Inn of Amarillo once was the place to stay.

In its heyday the inn was the place in town to see famous wrestlers lounging out by the pool. Opened in the 1960s as the Vic-Mon hotel and converted months later into the Holiday Inn West, its large welcoming sign lured many a traveler when Route 66 bypassed downtown and continued west along what we know today as part of Amarillo Boulevard proper.

The owner, now in his late 80’s, still spills rumors about former President Ronald Reagan and the King of Rock and Roll himself, Elvis Presley, both visiting the hotel. And while there are no records in the archives at the Amarillo Globe-News to substantiate such stories, the memories of the old inn are still vivid for many in the community who fondly remember the once-bustling area of town.

Here’s a 1960s postcard from 66Postcards.com of the motel’s ornate interior during its better days.

The current owner, Robert Swan of Pasadena, California, said he tried to improve the property years ago — after it had been converted into apartments — and complained about the repairs the city urged.

However, it’s hard to fault city officials to much insisting on livability standards and basic maintenance:

The space was described as “dangerous to human life and the public welfare.”

Photographs provided by the City mirror the description, with stained and dirty bedding, rusted sinks and bathtubs, and clogged toilets.

Records surrounding the inn’s 2010 condemnation suggest tenants lived there without always having heat or hot water. […]

“It has created a haven for vermin, foundations are failing, metal stairs are rusted and deteriorated, supporting pillars for the building have been removed, it may collapse, (and) the barrier around the pool is in disrepair, allowing entry and possible danger,” he said.

One official said the city gave Swan time to make repairs, and he “did nothing.”

A huge part of the cost of demolition will be removing asbestos — about $600,000, reported KFDA-TV. The Globe-News reported asbestos exists in all four structures on the property.

Swan told the newspaper he doesn’t have the money to bring the property to code and has “written it off in my mind.”

KFDA says if the city gives approval for the demolition, the property could be scraped clean within six months.

(Image of the Inn of Amarillo in 2013 via Google Street View excerpt; 1960s postcard image of Holiday Inn West in Amarillo via 66Postcards.com)

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