Cost for Route 66 Visitor Center in Albuquerque keeps rising

The cost of a Route 66 Visitors Center on Albuquerque’s west side has risen from $3.4 million to $12.9 million in three years.

KRQE-TV in Albuquerque had the story Wednesday night and quoted city councilor Klarissa Pena:

Back in 2016, Albuquerque city councilors and Bernalillo County commissioners announced a Route 66 Visitor Center on the far reaches of west Central was in the works.
“The vision is to create space for the community and its visitors to highlight our rich history and culture,” Pena says.
Pena says the facility will have a lowrider museum, a taproom, and drive-in movie area. “The idea of like, getting to relive some of the things that were very popular on Route 66, like diner experience or the drive-in movie theater, or I think the low rider culture is really interesting,” says Ashley Daniels. […]
“They met with community members and decided what they wanted and what they didn’t want. Some of the amenities, actually the space has grown probably about a quarter of the size,” Pena says.
The city, county and the state will all pitch in to cover the cost.

Another city councilor, Trudy Jones, opposes allocating that much money to the center and doubted whether the site on Nine Mile Hill would draw much of a crowd.

Last November, the cost of the Route 66 Visitor Center project rose from $3.4 million to up to $8 million. Officials at the time anticipated construction would begin by this month, with completion by 2020.

On a related note, the Albuquerque Journal published a story last week in which a group of local motels is opposing a $29 million “sports tourism funding” package using lodgers’ tax money. The plan would give $1 million to the Route 66 visitors center.

The Greater Albuquerque Hotel & Lodging Association is requesting a delay on an Oct. 7 city council vote on the proposal.

GAHLA members were unaware of the $29 million proposal until Keller’s office issued a news release a few weeks ago, according to Charlie Gray, the association’s executive director.
And the 120-member hotel association was not the only group caught by surprise.
Members of the city’s own Lodgers Tax Advisory Board said they knew nothing of the plan until Mayor Tim Keller announced it on Sept. 7. Some said they learned about it through media reports.

One could argue a better site would have been on the east edge of the city, since about 60 percent of Route 66 travelers are going west, according to the Route 66 Economic Impact Study.

But there’s no arguing that Nine Mile Hill would give scenic views of the city below, especially at night.

(Artist’s rendering of the proposed Route 66 visitors center in Albuquerque)

3 thoughts on “Cost for Route 66 Visitor Center in Albuquerque keeps rising

  1. Close to THIRTEEN MILLION DOLLARS of OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY? For that building pictured? After the failed so-callled rapid transit bus scheme, where do Albuquerque councillors continue to find the money? Is there a dollar well in their backyard?

  2. You’re perfectly right, Eric. So much money, that can be very well spent on the restoration of bridges, neon signs and the like: the stuff people travel the 66 for.
    Remember the ART. Big projects seem to consume ever bigger sums of money and are usually planned very badly.
    I hope responsible people will reconsider.

    Fred from The Netherlands.

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