Sundowner Motel renovated as apartment units

Created: 05/20/2014 5:17 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A Route 66 landmark is reborn – with a new lease on life in Albuquerque.

Not long ago the Sundowner Motel at San Pedro and Central was ripe for the wrecking ball – a motel that was swanky in the Sixties but slid into hard times in later decades. Now it’s back, in the form of 71 apartments for low income, middle income and disabled people. They seem to dig the restored Sixties style.

“Oh, I’m definitely gonna make the move,” said John Martin, checking out a studio apartment. “I figured I’d come down, check out the place, meet the manager. I was gonna get a one bedroom but I might get a studio now – this place is large!”

“I looked at one of the apartments but I’ve got to get one of those for the handicapped,” said Ted Schueller, who gets around in a wheelchair. “The one I saw I really liked.”

Architect Garrett Smith designed the makeover – vintage Vegas. Smith also designed the rebuilding of the Luna Lodge a couple of miles east on Central Avenue. The developer of both projects is New Life Homes – a nonprofit with a mission to provide affordable housing for people with special needs.  The price tag on the Sundowner project was $9.2 million, with state and local governments chipping in for the public/private partnership.

Here’s one of the worst-kept secrets of the Sundowner: back in 1975 a couple of guys lived there for a brief time, writing computer programs and trying to start a company. One guy named Paul Allen. Another guy named Bill Gates. A little company named Microsoft. They couldn’t acquire financing here and moved on to greener pastures.

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