NOB HILL — The De Anza Motor Lodge officially reopened on March 10 at 3 p.m. after years of work and reconstruction.
The resurrected De Anza Motor Lodge has been repurposed as an apartment complex styled to resemble the motel it originally was in 1939, when it was built by local trader Charles Wallace.
Members of the Albuquerque political class, including Mayor Tim Keller, City Councilor Pat Davis and Deputy Cabinet Secretary Jon Clark, attended the reopening.
"This is not an apartment where you would be short-term," Jim Trump, the leader of the development team, said. "This is an apartment because you want to be in a community."
Trump was asked three-and-a-half years ago if he would take up the project after multiple developers failed before him.
"These motor lodges were not made to last a long time. So, unfortunately, the construction style made it pretty hard to develop the building," Trump said.
Local artist B.C. Nowlin unveiled a painting commissioned for the event at the reopening. Nowlin was referred to the company by an investor.
The renovations for the lodge consisted of a public-private partnership, meaning the building was bought from the city with the promise of certain renovations and expectations.
"Now for us to have it reborn and revitalized is, in many ways, a symbol of what is happening all down Route 66," Keller said in his speech.
The lodge is just one part of Albuquerque's Metropolitan Redevelopment program, which includes renovating other hotels on Route 66.
"Up and down Central, a whole generation of folks are bringing those icons and those staples back, and a whole new generation of entrepreneurs are opening new places," Davis said in a speech at the reopening.
The lodge is already about 90% leased.
"You have the motel feel still," Trump said. "You're not as tight as apartments, where you're walking through a hallway to get someplace. You actually feel like you've got your own residence."
The lodge was once a prominent Zuni trading post. The owners and developers ensured that the historical connection wasn't lost and maintained important ties to the Zuni community.
"It was a very welcoming hotel, and it was also a very economic hotel for the Zuni people," Trump said. 'There is a focus on all of our events to support the Zuni community."
The lodge was nearly destroyed before the city took interest in the historical murals in the basement.
In the 1950s, twelve religious murals were painted by Zuni artist Tony Edaakie. As time went on and the motel was bought by private owners, the murals were nearly lost to history. Today, these murals are protected in a safe and natural environment.
Edaakie also did a terrazzo floor that is featured in the Turquoise Cafe, which has turquoise and silver laid in it.
Tours will be organized to view the historic murals in the future. Trump said there will most likely be a fee that will go to a non-profit in collaboration with Zuni board members for the preservation of the murals.
At the event, Zuni representative Kenny Bowekaty led separate groups through the murals, explaining the religious purposes behind them.
"The De Anza is an economic symbol of Nob Hill and the Zuni Pueblo," Trump said.
The National Park Service listed the De Anza Motor Lodge as a nationally registered historic place in 2004. The designation was changed from a state historical registered building.
"All you hear is negative press about Nob Hill and about ART and stores that are closing. We want to say that 'hey, there is life here,'" Trump said.
The developers are currently working with the grandson of Keith Edaakie on a new mural outside that will draw more people in.
The developers also incorporated reused Zuni stone that was hand-mined from the Zuni Pueblo and displayed in the original building. Also around the mural are Spanish peach trees, based on the same types of trees that the Zuni Pueblo would raise.
Megan Gleason is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fabflutist2716