The historic Sundowner Motel along Route 66 in Albuquerque has received a $500,000 federal housing grant to help convert it into apartments for the mentally ill, according to a news release on Monday.
The AHP grant will assist with converting the Sundowner Motel, a 1950s motel in Albuquerque, New Mexico, into 71 studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments that will serve a mix of very low-income residents, as well as provide some market rate apartments, and also target female veterans and their families, said John Bloomfield, executive director of NewLife Homes. […]
“We want to demonstrate that mixed-use, mixed-income development is a viable and attractive way for communities to grow,” Mr. Bloomfield said. “We want to dispel any myths people may have about mental illness and low-income housing. Our tenants have been excellent patrons of local business. We have Ph.D.’s and all kinds of professionals as residents. Mental illness can afflict anyone at any time. We try to serve the most vulnerable in the community.” […]
The Sundowner Motel, located on Central Avenue NE between Cagua and Laguayra drives, currently has 110 rooms and contains a restaurant and nightclub. It was built in the 1950s, but gained notoriety in the 1970s as the site where Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed their first version of BASIC computer language for the Altair computer. The motel flourished for years because of its location along Historic Route 66.
Digging into the Albuquerque Journal’s archives, I also found out the historic Luna Lodge along Route 66 also will be converted into 30 apartments for low-income residents. A vintage image of the Luna can be seen here.
Considering that Albuquerque contains a glut of motels along the Route 66 corridor, any effort that can adapt these properties for reuse — and thus preserve them — should be applauded.