ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The nearly 15-year wait is over: Shovels have gone in the ground at the De Anza Motor Lodge.
Wielding ceremonial blue shovels, a group of civic and business leaders and neighborhood residents broke ground Wednesday afternoon at the site, which will see new life as a mixed-use project that will include a boutique hotel, an extended stay hotel, upscale apartments, full-service restaurants, retail and office spaces.
The $8 million project is expected to be completed within 18 months.
Joan Black, acting manager with the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency, said the city had finally closed on the De Anza deal with private developer Anthea @ Nob Hill LCC, an investment consortium that includes Albuquerque-based companies TLC Plumbing and Utility and HB Construction.
The city bought the De Anza in 2003 for $891,000. The motel was built in the 1930s.
The third time was the charm to stoke redevelopment at the De Anza, said Mayor Richard Berry, referring to two previous failed attempts to attract developers with the intent of revitalizing the derelict property spread across 2.3 acres at Central Avenue and Washington Street.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Berry, adding that the ground breaking was a nice cap to his last couple of days in office. “I have no doubt it will be a popular stop along the ART line, which began services this week.”
About 85 percent of the buildings at the site are structurally unsound. Most will be demolished, and new buildings will rise in their place, said Dale Armstrong, president and CEO of TLC. Other structures, such as the Turquoise Cafe and motor court rooms where there are Zuni Pueblos murals, will be renovated.
Demolition crews should have the site cleared by February, said Armstrong. Construction will then begin in earnest.
The project has the potential to not only upgrade a blighted stretch of East Nob Hill, but to provide new jobs once tenants set up shop at the site, developers said.
It is unclear how much sales tax the city will get because no retailers have been finalized; however, Lisa Allen-Urea, a broker with Sedberry & Associates, said the firm has letters of intent from two restaurateurs wanting to do business in the reimagined De Anza. She hopes to announce names of tenants before construction is finished.
Talks with other potential businesses are ongoing.