The state of New Mexico received two bidders for land containing the historic Garrett’s Desert Inn in downtown Santa Fe, and both bidders want updates to the property.
The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reported HRV Hotel Partners and GreenTree Hospitality submitted sealed bids to the State Land Office for the property at 311 Old Santa Fe Trail (aka Route 66). GreenTree submitted the higher bid, but the state has other things to consider with the proposals.
In addition to Garrett’s being a 1950s motel, it houses the Santa Fe Bite restaurant, formerly the Bobcat Bite, which moved down Route 66 from the southeast edge of Santa Fe a few years ago after a dispute with its landlord. Bobcat Bite long was considered home to one of the best green-chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico and had been featured on the Food Network.
The state and residents feared a high-rise hotel would be proposed for the land, but both bidders want to keep the hotel within the current perimeters and height.
Walter Barela of GreenTree told the newspaper of his firm’s plans for the motel:
Barela said the property needs updated plumbing, electrical wiring and heating and cooling. He said he wants to take better advantage of the parking lot space as well as the entryway.
“The building has history. We don’t want to tear it down,” he said. “The rooms are small, but this is Santa Fe, and there’s a lot you can do with a small space.”
He said upgrades under his plan would include wood floors and Santa Fe-style furniture, as well as more commercial and gallery space. In addition, the Santa Fe Bite restaurant could remain on the property if he could reach reasonable terms on a sublease with the business, he said.
Richard Holland described HRV’s plans for the property:
Holland’s proposal for the property in downtown Santa Fe includes extensive interior renovation, and it would showcase the hotel’s exterior as a hip and modern part of Route 66 with private balconies and a rooftop suite. He wants to convert some of the large asphalt parking lot for lodging with four Airstream trailers that could be rented by overnight guests.
He called it “an ultra modern version of the motor court hotel” that would partially echo the Meow Wolf motif that has attracted notice.
The state plans to decide on the proposals soon; the lease is set to begin Jan. 1.
According to the Garrett’s Desert Inn website, the motel opened in 1957.
(Excerpted image of Garrett’s Desert Inn in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from Google Street View)