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Winning proposal picked for De Anza

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Secured private financing was the deciding factor in the Albuquerque Development Commission’s unanimous vote Thursday to pick an extended-stay lodging concept, plus related restaurant and retail uses, for the redevelopment of the historic but run-down De Anza Motor Lodge in east Nob Hill.

The winning $8.2 million proposal was submitted by Anthea@Nob Hill, a joint venture of Construct Southwest, headed by Bill Smith, and TLC Plumbing founder Dale Armstrong. The Anthea proposal’s timeline was for completion by the end of 2016, Smith told the commission.

“They’ve got the money and they’ve got the ability to get it moving and get it done,” commission member James Strozier said before the vote, which was preliminary. A final vote will be taken at an April 16 meeting.

The development commission’s decision is final in choosing developers for metropolitan redevelopment projects on city-owned land. City Council delegated its authority to make those decisions to the development commission through a provision in the city’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Ordinance.

Since its financing was all private with a roughly 20 percent equity stake by the principal investors, the Anthea was basically deemed less risky, based on comments made by all five commission members. Chairman Sherman McCorkle cited the importance of “skin in the game.”

In essence, the Anthea team wasn’t seeking public financing like industrial revenue bonds or historic preservation tax credits. A key provision in the team’s redevelopment plan was a long-term lease of the site, which would provide $915,000 in revenue to the city, noted commission member John Mechenbier.

The Anthea proposal calls for 30 furnished apartments that would be rented like extended-stay motel rooms. The more dilapidated buildings would be torn down, with new construction resembling the existing structures at the north end of the 2.1-acre site at the northwest corner of Central and Washington NE.

The buildings fronting on Central would be preserved, with the original lobby building in the middle turned into a restaurant that Smith said would be operated by the owners of the Range Cafe. The Turquoise Cafe would be resurrected as well.

The Anthea proposal was one of two finalists considered by the commission. The other finalist was a proposal by De Anza Co. LLC to basically reboot the motor inn as a 65-room hotel with an eye on historic preservation and Route 66 style.