Dec 132013
 

midway-trading-post









RETRO – Relive the Route

This is one group who are taking preservation to the next level.

I have had the pleasure to spend time with Roger Holden in and around Moriarty NM. Not only did we speak via Email, Facebook and phone calls, he invited me to stop out when I was coming back from Chicago and gave me a personal tour of all the projects they were working on.

We spent about 4 hours together first meeting at an antique car museum, heading over to the Whiting Bros. Gas Station they are helping with the restoration of the 2 signs, then over to the Midway Trading Post to walk around the property and he showed me what the plans are. We stopped out for lunch to talk preservation and then he told me about a Valentine Diner which was sitting off of the route.

Well, we had to check it out.

These folks are doing GREAT work preserving and growing Route 66 on their stretch of New Mexico.

Visit them on their Face book page at https://www.facebook.com/Relivetheroute

Jul 082013
 






Albuquerque officials want to encourage businesses to add neon lights that will lighten up Central Avenue along the city’s 15-mile stretch of historic Route 66.

The City Council last week approved a package of proposals for incentives. The Albuquerque Journal reported that Mayor Richard Berry intends to sign the proposals.

The proposals would allow larger and taller neon signs along the stretch of Central Avenue within city limits. Also, permit fees for neon signs would be waived if the signs meet design guidelines.

Berry and other supporters said adding more neon would make the area vibrant and encourage businesses to create interesting things to see.

Berry, whose administration sent the proposals to the council, said he hopes the changes will “allow businesses to create more iconic images up and down Central Avenue.”

City Councilor Isaac Benton cast the only vote against part of the package, saying it’s unpredictable how things could work out.

“My concern is that the historic signs are going to be lost in the sea of new pseudo-historic signs,” Benton said
Benton, who did support allowing more flexibility for neon signs in the Nob Hill and Highland area, said it’s not easy to determine “what’s creative and expressive and what’s just garish.”

Councilor Rey Garduno predicted the businesses will regulate themselves because they’ll want something that appeals to their areas.

“They’re trying to enhance what they have,” Garduno said.

Russell Brito, a city planning official, said the proposals center on incentives and don’t require anyone to use neon.
“We’re just hoping for a glowing reception from the business community,” he said. “Pun definitely intended.”

Apr 182013
 





ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A Route 66 motor lodge in Albuquerque where Bill Gates and Paul Allen lived while launching Microsoft Corp. is being redeveloped into apartments as part of a neighborhood revival project.

Officials broke ground Thursday on the redevelopment of the Sundowner Uhuru Apartment Complex, one of many projects sought to help revive a once busy area of Albuquerque.

The federally-funded project will create 70 apartments for veterans, the homeless, mixed-income residents, and residents with special needs.

The Sundowner was built in 1960 during the heart of Route 66 tourism.

Gates and Allen later lived at the Sundowner Motel when they wrote a version of the programming language BASIC for the Altair 8800 computer, invented in 1975 by the Albuquerque-based company MITS. The motel was used as a base camp in the mid-1970s before the pair moved Microsoft to the Seattle-area.

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says the motel was “ground zero” for the personal computer revolution and needs to be redeveloped for history.

“All these historic hotels up and down Route 66 have so many stories to tell,” Berry said. “If the walls could talk….”

Justin Spielmann, the geoscience collections manager at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, said the motel “is practically where Microsoft started” and played a key role in the upcoming technology revolution.

“This is really the cradle where personal computing sort of came into its own,” said Spielmann. Albuquerque is really the seat of personal computers and the Sundowner plays into that origin.”

The $9 million-development includes plans for a growers market, retail, and community space intended for small businesses.

Asbestos remediation on the motel was recently completed and constructed has started on a project official says will bring dozens of jobs to the city.

The Sundowner project is one of many slated for a once popular area of Albuquerque along Route 66.

In recent years, the area around the Sundowner, which was vacant, has been a high-crime zone and known for prostitution.

By Russell Contreras – The Associated Press

Mar 182013
 





Luna Lodge is back to its Route 66 glory, which was no small task.

The motor lodge, originally built in 1949, was deemed substandard by city officials in 2008. Officials said they found syringes, fecal matter and raw sewage flowing into a lot next door. Tenants were given two weeks to find new housing before the lodge was boarded up.

NewLife Homes, an Albuquerque non-profit, recently stepped in.

“We just felt this had a good fit. It was in a good location that needed revitalization,” said John Bloomfield, the executive director of NewLife Homes. “Some projects look challenging, but they can be done.”

Luna Lodge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998; because of this, NewLife Homes had to preserve its historic integrity while bringing the building up to code. Asbestos and lead paint had to be removed before the real work could start, turning the 28- unit motor lodge into 14 apartments, with new units built behind the motor court.

The collaborative construction project cost about three million dollars, and was funded largely by grants.

Bloomfield said all of the low-income apartments filled up quickly, which the people NewLife Homes are most looking to help.

“What’s critical is that we are creating permanent supportive communities where people look out for each other, and are also invested in the broader community,” Bloomfield said.

The official ribbon-cutting for Luna Lodge is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Bloomfield said the next project for NewLife Homes is renovating and converting the Sundowner Motel into a 71-unit apartment complex and mixed-use facility for low-income residents. Tenants should be in the Sundowner by August, according to Bloomfield.

Kayla Ayres – krqe.com

Jan 032013
 



Albuquerque, at one time, seemed hell-bent on tearing down the old sections of the route for all new development – but it seems they are seeing what a lot of other folks and towns are seeing – the added value of the attraction that is known world-wide as Route 66!

Klarissa Peña remembers cruising on West Central, and now she’s part of the city’s push to try and restore the glamour and the glitz of old Route 66.

“We all appreciate cruising,” Peña said of the West Central community that includes one of the longest stretches of actively used Route 66, the iconic “Mother Road.”

Peña, president of the Southwest Alliance of Neighbors, Mayor Richard Berry and other dignitaries were at a recent ribbon cutting for a gleaming new fire station on 57th Street and West Central. They briefly described to celebrants upcoming projects intended to improve safety and to spur economic development in the area in the next several years. Mentioned were a new library, a series of road, safety and sidewalk improvements, new senior housing and a new visitor’s center on Nine Mile Hill, along with a long list of other potential economic development projects.

“What we hope to do is entice people to get off the interstate to come into the community and shop and to take in some of the sights, like the breathtaking view of the city viewable from historic Route 66,” Peña said.

The City Council in fall 2010 began planning a new West Route 66 Sector Development Plan. The plan noted that in the past 20 years the area suffered from stagnant commercial development, while single-family housing boomed in surrounding areas.

That left a significant imbalance between jobs and services and housing, and thus West Central became a commuter road instead of a destination for jobs, service, retail or more diverse housing.

Peña said she’s “absolutely thrilled” that the building of a new community library is slated to start sometime next summer at Central and Unser, providing critical educational services to area schools and residents.

During public hearings as part of developing a sector plan, the city heard recommendations that it encourage new multifamily and senior housing, attract new commercial development and retain its cultural legacy, including the preservation of Route 66, agrarian traditions, expansive views and the eclectic and unique character of the area, which is marked by its collection of roadside neon lit travel motels, gas stations and cafes.

Particularly involved with the plans for the area have been the mayor, City Councilor Isaac Benton and County Commissioner Art De La Cruz, Peña said.

“We want to bring back the character of the Old Route 66 and develop an Uptown center kind of shopping experience for people on West Central and the West Side,” Peña said. “We still have a long way to go, but with the enthusiasm and the tenacity of the people here, I have no doubt we’re going to be successful.”

Oct 292012
 



If you haven’t checked them out yet – there are two new website to start adding to your collection of Route 66 favorites!

The first one is for the New Mexico Route 66 Museum in Tucumcari NM. After a long time planning, the new museum has found a home in Tucumcari and they are actively putting all the pieces together to get it opened for the next travel season so tourists can stop in and enjoy.

If you have been to Tucumcari or if you have seen the numerous projects which have taken place over the years, you know this town will do an ‘A-1′ job on having the best museum the state could possibly have.






The second one is Wheels on 66. Wheels on 66 is an annual festival which brings out different musical groups, car shows and anything else to highlight Tucumcari’s role on the route.

This year is a 4 day event and will the majority of events will take place at the Tucumcari Convention Center.
This year’s events even include monster trucks!

Check out these websites and make sure you check them often and information will be updated often.

New Mexico Route 66 Museum

Wheels on 66

Sep 152012
 






The tenth (and final gas station of the year) was just completely repainted and cleaned up with the help of volunteers as Tucumcari continues with their plan to make their town a true destination for travelers on Route 66.

The group started at 8am and worked all day until the building was painted and all the trim was completed. A special thanks to the Tucumcari/Quay County Chamber of Commerce for their funding assistance…






























































































Throught the next week – Doug Quarles of Quarles Art Gallery will do what he does best – start with the many murals and artwork on the building to complete the restoration.

This gas station is located right nexct door to Junior Garza’s gas station we painted last year. Click HERE to see that video.

Sep 022012
 


There are new owners of the old Redwood Lodge by the Tucumcari Convention Center, they’ve been completely remodeling the place for student housing, and I have been told the place looks great.

They gave the place a nice new paint job, all new doors, new a/c, with work done to the exterior and the interior. All 24 rooms will receive a makeover. The units will be fully furnished, utilities and Wi-Fi will be included.

The story is this is a retired family out of Santa Fe NM, who during this economy couldn’t get satisfactory returns on investments with stocks, CD’s and the likes, decided to invest in some real estate rehab projects. Rumor has it they might be interested in buying the Historic Odeon Theatre in Tucumcari, which is on the National Historic Register and for sale by its long time owner, who simply wishes to retire.

They are planning on reopening the Redwood Lodge as student housing for the students who are (or are planning to attend) Mesalands Community College.

It’s a nice change seeing most older motels are being converted to monthly rentals and start slowly deteriorating to the point where they are no longer inhabitable.

Click HERE for their website.

Aug 292012
 




 

A local committee received approval from the Tucumcari City Commission to convert portions of the Tucumcari Convention Center into the New Mexico Route 66 Museum.

Frost said having a Route 66 museum would be a great asset for the community, and could help the city further take advantage of tourism dollars.

Frost said the museum could even be added to a proposal submitted to the New Mexico Racing Commission for a racetrack and casino. He said it would show the commission there is a greater plan in mind.

Frost said Don Chalmers and Coronado Partners, LLC., are on board with housing the museum at the race track and casino grounds. He said they offered to provide a 10,000-square-foot building at no cost.

Frost said Chalmers stressed to the group that he and the partners needed to see that the community showed an actual desire and commitment to this project — and not just a bare-bones museum with a few classic cars.

Frost said the immediate goal is to open a interim museum in the Fort Bascom and San Jon rooms at the Tucumcari Convention Center. He said the two rooms would serve as the museum and gift shop.

Commissioner Dora Salinas-McTigue asked if the committee would cover renovation costs for the two rooms, and was told that would be the case. Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval said the commission should receive progress reports.

Frost said the committee wants to pursue this project, though they do not want to step on anyone’s toes. He said the city would receive 10 percent of the net proceeds from admission and gift shop sales, and the museum board would be formed with representatives from both the city and county.

Frost said he also contacted the Tucumcari Rattler Alumni Association to clear the use of the two rooms. He said the Rattler Reunion has used those rooms in the past for their reunions and the committee wanted make sure they had their approval before they proceeded.

Frost said if approved by the commission the museum would also be used as a project for the University of New Mexico’s school of management. He said Vicky Watson, director of Mesalands Small Business Administration, would use the college’s partnership with UNM to bring students in to work on the business plan and make sure the museum is going in the right direction.

The commission approved the use of the convention center and will draw up a lease agreement outlining the cost for the use of the building.

By Thomas Garcia: QCS senior writer

Dec 122011
 



The new owners’ of the Blue Swallow Motel…


This has to be one of the ‘most fun’ stories of the year! I was fortunate to meet Kevin and Nancy TWO DAYS before they were to officially take over ownership of the Historic Blue Swallow motel.

Imagine packing up everything you own and filling (what you can – or what is really important to you, and add two large dogs!) – into a SUV with a trailer hitched on the back, pull out of your driveway in Michigan, head south to Tucumcari with numerous stops on the route to visit folks and take notes, and you have Kevin and Nancy!

We were on our last day of doing preservation work at the Phillips 66 gas station in Tucumcari when we were heading back to Motel Safari for the night. I noticed the neon was lit for the Blue Swallow - and like ANYONE with a camera – we ran across the street to take some pictures. The (good old) former owner Bill came running out, and we thought he was in the process of shooing us of his property! Low and behold, he asked my wife if we wanted to meet the ‘new owners’, and of course we said yes!

Even though they were on the ‘down low’ from officially owning the motel – they were more than happy to swap stories, tell of their several trips on the route, what made them decide to buy the motel, and most importantly, what they were going to DO to it! This was a big ‘hush hush’ at the time, but Kevin has more than generously uploaded so many pictures of not only the visitors who stop in, but the progress he is making, as he told me, ‘to bring it back how it used to be in the 40′s and 50′s’.

The thing I love about Tucumcari is: They take care of their own. Instead of being seen as the competition (and being THE iconic motel in Tucumcari) – several other motels have formed a ‘triangle’ of sorts – helping each other out, talking about ideas, planning events, and working together to give ALL travelers a reason to come back again and again. I can say with all the work which is happening in Tucumcari - it is now a ‘DESTINATION STOP’, versus a ‘visit or a quick pic’ type of place.

I keep posting on the Blue Swallow Facebook page that Kevin makes it look like owning a historic motel – well, FUN!

I am stuck between a rock and a hard place ’cause everytime we go to Tucumcari, we stay at the Motel Safari. Rich and Gail have been better to us than family! And we are greatful for that. NOW, I do know you CANNOT lose staying at either place. And thankfully they are right across the street from each other – so if one is booked up for the night, the other is literally a ‘stones throw’ away!

If you have not visited the Blue Swallow website (how dare you!) click HERE, or visit them on their Facebook page by clicking HERE.