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Mall Remodel Closes Winrock Inn

By Diane Velasco
Journal Staff Writer
    The 42-year-old Best Western Winrock Inn— once THE place to stay when shopping in Albuquerque— closed Monday as part of the Winrock Center's redevelopment plan.
    The 172-room hotel, an appendage of the mall since 1963, will be torn down, said owner David Blankman. Blankman's family has owned the hotel since it was built but leased the land from the mall.
    The mall's owners, Pru-Winrock LLC, bought out the lease so the hotel could be closed and demolished, Blankman said.
    "In effect, they paid us to terminate the lease," he said.
    About 42 people worked at the hotel, as many as 60 in summer. Employees were told about the plans to close two months ago, and 95 percent have found other jobs, Blankman said.
    "It's sad to see it go because it has been here for such a long time— it's an historic marker," said Richard Castillo, a manager.
    Castillo has worked at the hotel for three years.
    "We had a lot of regulars, and I knew most of them by first name," he said. "A lot of them called today to say goodbye."
    Castillo has found a management position at Plaza Inn.
    The hotel offered a buffet, outdoor pool and pond where ducks and fish frolicked. The ducks and fish have been adopted by a former employee who built a pond at his home to take them in, Castillo said.
    Blankman said he has a month to sell off the hotel's equipment and expects the building to be demolished within six months.
    Shelton Weeks, general manager of Winrock Center, confirmed the move is part of the mall's redevelopment strategy.
    Updated, detailed plans for Albuquerque's oldest mall are expected to be announced in coming months.
    Winrock mall opened in 1961. The hotel, originally dubbed the White Winrock Motor Hotel, opened two years later.