• Hotel Blue project is delayed, slated to start in April
  • Electric Playhouse offices will remain Downtown despite high-profile westside location
  • Portland Loo to be installed in Old Town parking lot in May, but demolition of old parking booth will happen sooner.
Delayed Hotel Blue renovation to start in April
The project promises to restore the former Downtowner Motor Inn's historic look.
The much-anticipated renovation of Hotel Blue, the historic Route-66 era establishment at 8th and Central, will begin by the end of April, Arrive Hotels development manager Ryan McCulloch told DAN. The project, originally set to begin around the new year, was delayed due to a longer-than-expected review process at the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, a need to update engineering drawings, and other factors, he said.

Arrive, the boutique hotel developer, applied for a building permit a couple of weeks ago and is in the process of choosing a general contractor among four local options, McCulloch added.

Factored into the project's $23 million price tag are $1.1 million worth of tax breaks from the city. The subsidy is conveyed through a complex finance vehicle called an industrial revenue bond. (For details on how that works, and more details on the project, check out our Hotel Blue cheat sheet.)

A portion of the project is being financed by an unusual crowd-funding effort open to small investors who would not normally be able to buy into large real estate projects. As of last week, the offer had attracted just over $300,000 of the $2 million fundraising goal, but McCulloch said Arrive had other financing in place to make up whatever balance is left when the effort concludes on March 20.
Electric Playhouse offices will remain Downtown, despite high profile westside location
Electric Playhouse, a company that runs events that colorfully combine the experience of visiting an art gallery and light show while playing games and dining out, recently opened a new high-profile location on the westside. But since late 2018, the company, which is now mulling expansion to even more locations, has been run out of offices at 610 Central in the Downtown core. 

That's not going to change, Studio Director Theresa Kitt told DAN. Administrators will stay Downtown even as the event action shifts to the westside.

"We used to participate in the First Friday Artwalk and also host private events and special immersive dining events at our Downtown location," she said. "Since we have grown so much the space that we once used for these events is now needed for desks for staff." 

The only visible change may be the sign out front. Look for it to be redone with the wording "Electric Playhouse Studios," Kitt said. 
Portland Loo install set for May, but demolition work is imminent
The new public restroom will be installed in the northeast section of a city-operated parking lot in Old Town.
Demolition prep work for the Portland Loo, a prefabricated public restroom that will be placed in an Old Town parking lot, will commence in the next couple of weeks, city spokesman Johnny Chandler told DAN. The work, which will include the removal of a long-abandoned parking attendant booth, is slated to last for a week or two. 

After that, the project will take a break for several weeks to accommodate what is typically a significant increase in tourist traffic around the Gathering of Nations, an annual festival at Tingley Coliseum scheduled for April 24-25.

The installation of the restroom itself is scheduled to start in early May and last for four to six weeks, Chandler said. Throughout the project, the crew may block off up to six parking spaces, and access to the parking lot from San Felipe Street may be blocked at times, though San Felipe itself should be passable save for some temporary closures due to water and sewer work that will serve the restroom. The larger parking lot itself will remain open throughout the project.

Chandler added that crews will also modify the entrance to the parking lot near the loo to ensure that, once completed, people will not be driving on both sides of the restroom, as they currently do now with the attendant booth. The project's total cost is estimated at $100,000, he said.
Downtown Albuquerque News covers greater Downtown, which we generally define as the area created by I-40, the Rio Grande, and the railroad tracks. We publish weekdays except for federal holidays. If someone forwarded DAN to you, please consider subscribing. To subscribe, contact us, submit a letter to the editor, or learn more about what we do, click here. If you ever run into technical trouble receiving DAN, click here.
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