New Mexico Route 66 landmark renovation hits snag

April 15, 2013 • State News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — T[auth] he on-again, off-again renovation of a Route 66 landmark in Albuquerque has hit yet another snag.

The Albuquerque Journal reports ( ) that the National Park Service is requiring that the developer of the De Anza Motor Lodge design elements that were added to the motel in 1964. Rob Dickson, the project’s developer, said the changes are costly and irrelevant.

The design elements required by the federal agency are all external features, such as roof overhangs, that would add about $175,000 to the cost, Dickson said.

“They are rotted away,” he said of the 1964 design features. “We would have to rebuild them.”

The National Park Service in November gave “conditional approval” to the $4.3 million renovation of the Route 66 landmark. The agency’s approval is needed to obtain federal historic tax credits.

Dickson plans to convert the 74-year-old motel in Albuquerque into a 39-unit apartment complex and restaurant. Dickson’s firm, De Anza Developer LLC, would contribute $3.9 million in cash to the project. The city of Albuquerque would contribute the property and $421,500 in cash.

Dickson and Albuquerque officials want to restore the motel to its 1957 design, which lacked the roof overhangs.

Albuquerque officials plan to appeal the National Park Service’s conditional approval of the project, said Gabriel Rivera, acting manager of the city’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency. But first, the federal agency must formally deny the city’s proposal, Rivera said. The city asked the park service in February for a formal denial and is awaiting a response, he said.

Jane Cowley, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service, said the agency is considering Albuquerque’s request and plans to make a decision “fairly soon.”

The effort to renovate the vintage 1939 motel has experienced several false starts since the city purchased the site in 2003 for $891,000. A development agreement was reached in 2006 that later stalled.

Dickson, who redeveloped the old Albuquerque High School, signed an agreement with the city in January 2012 to redevelop the motel.

In June, Dickson predicted that the 10-month renovation project would begin by August. He said he remains hopeful that he and the city can resolve their differences with the National Park Service and begin work soon.

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