Blighted Central Motels Seldom Historic To Route 66

It was reported that the Desert Sands Motor Hotel on Central was finally demolish and the property cleared. (For full story see January 6, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, Business Section, “Route 66 remnant reduced to dirt lot”, page B-1)

It is always difficult to see classic Route 66 motels leveled to an empty lot, but it is inevitable when the properties are not maintained, repaired or remodeled over the years or when they are damaged beyond repair.

Classic does not make them historic.

In the case of the Desert Sands Motel, after 3 major fires, it was probably cheaper to tear it down rather than try and repair it because it was structurally unsound.

The Safe City Strike Force was able to work with the Desert Sands property owners to assume the cost of the tear down.

I suspect the final cost of the tear down and debris removal was $100,000 to $150,000 and the damage from the fires exceeded $1 million.

With a little luck, this prime piece of commercial property on Central will be redeveloped.

When it comes to historic Route 66, the Central Avenue motels played an important role in Albuquerque’s history when the automobile was the major source of transportation to travel the country, especially for vacations.

When I was Director of the Safe City Strike Force from 2002 to 2009, we took code enforcement action against 48 of the 150 motels along central and forced compliance with building codes and mandated repairs to the properties to make them habitable.

The Central motels that the Safe City Strike Force took action against include the Gaslight Motel (demolished), The Zia Motel (demolished), The Royal Inn (demolished), Route 66 (demolished), the Hacienda, Cibola Court, Super 8 (renovated by owner) , the Travel Inn (renovated by owner), Nob Hill Motel (renovated by owner), the Premier Motel (renovated by owner) the De Anza (purchased by City for historical significance), the No Name, the Canyon road (demolished), Hill Top Lodge, American Inn (demolished), the El Vado (purchased by City for historical significance), the Interstate Inn (demolished).

The Safe City Strike Force was responsible for the demolition of at least seven (7) blighted motels that were way beyond repair, that were not fit for occupancy and that had excessive calls for service to the Albuquerque Police Department.

Many of the older Central motels the Safe City Strike Force took action against were no longer motels where rooms were rented out for short term stays, but were in fact converted to monthly long term rental units, sometimes for entire families.

Of all the motels the Safe City Strike Force took action against, only two were designated as historic: the El Vado Motel and the De Anza Motel, and the city bought both the motels and redevelopment is still pending.

I believe we need to preserve as much as possible all historical aspects of old Route 66, but trying to preserve blighted motels with no true historic significance that have become magnets for crime accomplishes very little.

This entry was posted in Opinions by . Bookmark the permalink.


Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.