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Renovation Coming for ABQ’s Sundowner Motel, Luna Lodge

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The two historic East Central motels will be transformed into apartment complexes

Bill Gates’ and Paul Allen’s old “base camp” is on its way to getting a face lift, as is another historic East Central motel.

The city’s Environmental Planning Commission has approved zoning changes and site development plans allowing for the renovation of the former Sundowner Motel and Luna Lodge.

“We think this is a good, positive transformation of a space that’s been empty for a long time,” said Enrique Cardiel, a South San Pedro Neighborhood Association and the Southeast Heights Health Coalition representative, about the Sundowner’s reuse.

NewLife Homes, a nonprofit developer that supplies housing for people including the low-income and disadvantaged, is undertaking the efforts.

The applications were approved separately, and unanimously, by the EPC.

Under the plans:

  • The Sundowner Motel at 6101 Central NE, just west of San Pedro, would be transformed into a 71-unit apartment complex with a community room, laundry room, gym, library, community garden, business incubators, and office and retail space.

“The Sundowner Motel … has an intriguing history, including being the base camp for Bill Gates and Paul Allen in the 1970s,” reads a city Planning Department staff report. “Gates and Allen lived in the Sundowner Motel while they were working on their first version of BASIC computer language for the Altair computer, which was invented in 1975 by the Albuquerque MITS company, located a block from the Sundowner.”

  • The Luna Lodge site at 9119 Central NE, east of Wyoming, would include 30 “affordable” apartments — 14 units, an office and community room with a kitchen in the existing motel and 16 units in a new two-story building.

“The existing motel is listed on the State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places as one of the best examples of a largely unaltered tourist court along historic Route 66,” a city planning staff report reads.

“Some (of NewLife Homes’ projects) are exclusively for persons with disabilities. These two projects aren’t,” John Bloomfield, executive director of the company, told the Journal. “They’re really wanting to have a mixed income,” similar to the type of development that has occurred at Second and Lomas NW.

“What we really believe strongly in is having a rich mix of incomes and that’s going to be more visible in the Sundowner, but also a mixture of uses. We’re going to have some supportive services on-site and then the commercial …”

Work at the Luna Lodge site could start this year and at the Sundowner site next year.




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