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Route 66 hotel to house 30 units

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A historic Route 66 hotel that fell into disrepair is getting a second life as apartments for low-income individuals, many with mental illness or disabilities.

Luna Lodge, built in 1949 and one of the easternmost motels on Albuquerque’s commercial strip, has been rehabilitated into 30 apartment units by NewLife Homes, a nonprofit developer of affordable housing. The group, along with Mayor Richard Berry, held a ribbon-cutting Monday at the former motel, 9119 Central NE.

The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Berry said in a statement that the renovation conveys a “vintage vibe” and seamlessly fits into the city’s plans “to revitalize our stretch of Historic Route 66, which boasts of iconic neon signs and remnants of the retro area.”

The motor lodge was built during the “golden age of Route 66 tourism,” according to the state Environment Department, which helped clean up asbestos and lead paint as part of the renovation.

The facelift preserves the pueblo revival style architecture of Luna Lodge. It includes a community room and training kitchen that will serve as a resource for residents who want to learn food industry skills.

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The total project cost $4.8 million, said John Bloomfield, executive director of NewLife. Of that, $3.3 million is from out-of-state buyers of tax credits, $1.2 million is from the city of Albuquerque’s general obligation bonds, and the rest is from smaller grants, he said.

NewLife Homes is also working on transforming a second Route 66 motel into apartments, the Sundowner Motel, 6101 Central NE. Those plans called for a 71-unit apartment complex with a community room, laundry room, gym, library, community garden, business incubators and office and retail space.

That hotel has the distinction of being the “base camp” for Bill Gates and Paul Allen 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.

Bloomfield said plans call for two alleys to be named after Gates and Allen, but so far efforts to lure the two to the property’s opening, expected late this summer, have been unsuccessful.
— This article appeared on page C3 of the Albuquerque Journal

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