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De Anza redevelopment to start soon

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Redevelopment of the the De Anza Motor Lodge site is expected to start soon. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — While construction crews are at work refurbishing the El Vado Motel and the adjoining Casa Grande sites along Central Avenue, the developer picked by the city to bring the De Anza Motor Lodge back to life will soon follow suit.

Albuquerque-based Construct Southwest, headed by Bill Smith, was selected last July by the city of Albuquerque to redevelop the property at 4301 Central NE, which has sat vacant for years.

Many had expected the De Anza project to start earlier. Smith declined Monday to say why it hadn’t but said the project is still a go.

Demolition of three buildings at the De Anza is scheduled “some time in June,” Smith said.

After a year’s construction, Anthea at De Anza will rise in its place, Smith said.  The historic signs fronting Central and several buildings will be preserved, as well as some rare Zuni Pueblo murals.  Plans are essentially the same as when the city gave the nod to the developers for their proposal last July, said Smith, whose company also built the Anthea at the Granite condotels in Downtown, an extended-stay facility which he said is 95 percent full.

The Anthea proposal will see the De Anza transformed from a blighted motor court into upscale extended-stay units for business travelers and tourists. Plans also call for a pool, retail space and a restaurant. The city bought the De Anza in 2003 for $891,000. The motel was built in the 1930s.

Smith pegged redevelopment costs at $8.1 million. The city is providing a $490,000 grant for the project and leasing the property to the Anthea for about $28,000 a year.

Smith said he aims to build “something Albuquerque will be proud of” at the De Anza site, one of the motels that sprouted up along Route 66 — the “Mother Road” that once connected Chicago and Los Angeles, starting in the 1920s.

A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency agency confirmed the developer is under agreement with the city and is finishing up design plans to secure the necessary permits and approvals.