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Vagabond Inn reborn as University Village

Copyright © 2013 Albuquerque Journal

University Village, the once controversial reboot of the long-closed Vagabond Inn Executive at 1901 University SE, is tentatively scheduled to reopen May 15 as an extended-stay motel with 155 rooms.

Boarded up in 2009 after 24 years in operation, the motel was bought by a group of local investors in October and renovated for the expressed purpose of both long- and short-term rentals. Originally a Radisson, the motel was known for hosting visiting college athletic teams over the years.

An open house is scheduled at University Village, just north of Gibson, on May 16 at 6 p.m., said Brad Allen, who with associate Lance Sigmon of Allen Sigmon Real Estate Group is an investor in the project. The public is invited.

“I don’t think anyone will walk away disappointed,” Allen said. “A project like this provides optimism for the community. The amenities and flexibility are quite unique for our marketplace.”

The $6.2 million project was initially opposed by adjacent landowner the University of New Mexico, which is in the process of setting up private development of about 45 acres into a retail and restaurant area surrounding The Pit. UNM’s opposition was based on concern the property would be low-rent apartments that would hurt neighboring property values.

Long-term stays at University Village, such as by students or health-care workers at nearby hospitals, are allowed under its special-use zoning for a “motel & related facilities,” according to the city’s code compliance manager.

UNM filed an appeal in December of the manager’s ruling, officially a “declaratory judgment,” that University Village conformed to its zoning. UNM has since backed off.

“University Village Hotel LLC, the owner of the Vagabond hotel … will operate the facility for hotel use, including extended stays,” said Tom Neale, interim director of real estate at UNM, in an email. “Based on this representation and the current zoning of the property, the university has withdrawn its appeal of the declaratory ruling,” he said.

University Village has 89,960 square feet in four buildings. In addition to 155 rooms, it has a fitness center and game room in 15,000 square feet of common area. Rates start at $70 a night, $200 a week and from $500 to $750 a month, depending on location of the unit.

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