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La Posada owner wants to buy another historic Las Vegas hotel April 15, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.
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Amid the hubbub of La Posada Hotel co-owner Alan Affeldt recently buying the historic Castaneda Hotel in Las Vegas, N.M., one thing that’s been often overlooked is he wants to buy the historic Plaza Hotel in town, too.

Following up on an editorial Sunday in the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, I found this excerpt in a recent edition of the Las Vegas Optic newspaper:

Affeldt, the man who purchased and restored the La Posada Hotel in Winslow, Ariz., has made it clear that he wants to purchase the Plaza Hotel too. Indeed, when the purchase agreement on the Castañeda was announced in February, Affeldt said he would move forward on that deal only if the purchase of the Plaza was looking favorable.

On Thursday, Affeldt told the Optic that he has met with the New Mexico Finance Authority board and the president of the bank, both of whom have an ownership interest in the Plaza, and they have agreed, in principle, that they want to sell it. The Plaza went into receivership in 2012.

“For us it’s kind of a leap of faith that everything is going to work out with the Plaza,” Affeldt said, explaining that acquiring that hotel is critical for his Castañeda plans.

Affeldt explained modernizing Castaneda — basically adding bathrooms to every room — would give it only 20 guest rooms and wouldn’t be economically viable by itself. So Affeldt wants to buy the nearby Plaza Hotel to generate more revenue. Because the bank wants to unload the Plaza, Affeldt undoubtedly will get it at a bargain price.

The Castaneda Hotel sits about a mile from the Plaza Hotel.

The Plaza Hotel, deemed “The Belle of the Southwest,” was built in 1882. It underwent a $1 million renovation in 1982, and in 2009 bought the next-door Charles Ifeld Building for more guest rooms, a ballroom and meeting areas. The hotel is home to the popular Landmark Grill, and has hosted everyone from western star Tom Mix to scenes in the Oscar-winning film “No Country for Old Men.”

Las Vegas sits a few miles from old Route 66, but has become a popular side trip for travelers on the Mother Road’s Santa Fe Loop.

(Image of the Plaza Hotel by Enrique A. Sanabria via Flickr)

La Posada owner completes purchase of Hotel Castaneda April 8, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation, Railroad.
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As expected, Allan Affeldt, co-owner of historic La Posada in Winslow, Ariz., on Monday closed on his purchase of the long-closed Hotel Castaneda, aka La Castaneda, in Las Vegas, N.M.

Affeldt said in a Facebook post:

Purchased Fred Harvey’s 1898 Hotel Castaneda today.

It closed as a hotel in 1948 so we have one week to get it safe and clean for Governor Martinez’ visit on the 14th at noon.

To have New Mexico’s governor visit barely a week after you buy a long-decaying property tells you how momentous the occasion is. People have prayed, probably for decades, that someone would buy and restore the property, and Affeldt practically is the best person to do so.

Las Vegas sits a few miles from old Route 66, but has become a common side trip for travelers exploring the 1926-37 alignment of the road that looped to Santa Fe.

Affeldt saved La Posada, built in 1929, after he bought the long-closed property in the 1990s and restored it.

Also on Monday, a post on La Posada’s Facebook page also contained intriguing, semi-related news:

There is a sad story behind this picture. This is all that remains of The Havasu Harvey House that was torn down in Seligman (Ariz.) in 2008 by the railroad. The Havasu was a rare prairie style Harvey House and it had a sturdy red tile roof. These are the tiles that were salvaged from that roof. We hope to use these tiles when restoring other historic building. Today we received our first shipment. We will receive 125 pallets of these historic tiles over the next few days.

It wouldn’t surprise me if some of those tiles will be used at the Hotel Castaneda as well.

The Havasu in Seligman was torn down despite efforts of local preservationists, including Arizona Historic Route 66 Association founder Angel Delgadillo.

(Image of La Castaneda in Las Vegas, N.M., by Perry Nelson via Flickr)

Tesla supercharger added to La Posada grounds April 5, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Restaurants, Road trips, Vehicles.
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A supercharger for Telsa electric cars has been added to one of the parking lots of the historic La Posada hotel on Route 66 in Winslow, Ariz., according to the Casa Grande Dispatch.

The newspaper also said La Posada will add chargers for other electric cars, including Nissan, Toyota, Honda and GM. Hotel co-owner Allan Affeldt said adding the chargers is “the right thing to do,” and already has a large array of solar panels to generate electricity.

A remarkable coincidence recently occurred with the Tesla supercharger’s installation and Telsa Motors owner Elon Musk:

The need for a second Tesla supercharger came about when Affeldt learned that hotel reservations had been made by one noted billionaire, Elon Musk, and a large entourage to include three Model S Teslas. Apparently Musk was on a rare vacation with his wife, children, parents, brother and security team, taking in the Grand Canyon, Route 66 and other Southwestern sites.

As to how the Musk party happened to make reservations the very same week that Affeldt’s single supercharger was to be installed “is a mystery,” says Affeldt, but also a rare opportunity to have the first user of his system be Musk himself, the man who joined a struggling electric vehicle company several years ago and turned it into the global leader in e-car technology.

“Once I knew he was coming I added a second charger,” says Affeldt, “and my electrician worked every day to get the system up.” The system cost Affeldt over $10,000 for two 100-amp charging circuits, each requiring a 200-amp breaker, each drawing 80 amps per charge. The Tesla-badged EV charging stations are located just left of the main entrance on the Route 66 side of La Posada. One week ago Musk’s three Tesla sedans rotated through the chargers while he and family enjoyed the ambience, art and cuisine of Affeldt’s La Posada and Chef John Sharpe’s highly decorated Turquoise Room.

Affeldt thinks the hotel’s Turquoise Room restaurant was the original draw for Musk. The restaurant has been honored as one of the best in the Southwest.

Affeldt recently posted a photo on his Facebook account of him, his wife and Musk with two Teslas at the superchargers.

Telsa superchargers — which can provide 170 miles’ worth of charge in 30 minutes — are sprinkled along the Route 66 corridor in California and Arizona, including another recently added in Holbrook.

According to Tesla, by the end of the year, superchargers will be installed along Route 66 in New Mexico, Texas and the western half of Oklahoma. By the end of 2015, superchargers will be no more than 150 miles or so apart on the Mother Road.

On a related note, I’ve received word the National Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation is working to set up an electric vehicle museum in the Powerhouse Museum during the International Route 66 Festival in August in Kingman, Ariz.

Affeldt weeks ago made big news when he announced his intention to buy another historic Harvey House, Hotel Castaneda of Las Vegas, N.M. Affeldt said in a recent Facebook post he would take possession of that property April 8.

(Image of a Tesla Roadster by randychiu via Flickr)

NewLife Homes wants to renovate another Route 66 motel April 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.
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NewLife Homes, which brought new life (no pun intended) to two historic Route 66 motels in Albuquerque, wants to add a third the Duke City to its portfolio.

According to Albuquerque Business First:

Executive DirectorJohn Bloomfield said he’s exploring the acquisition of the Deluxe Inn & Suites at 12901 Central Ave. NE between Juan Tabo and Tramway boulevards. The project would become a 76-unit apartment complex that would be marketed primarily to veterans.

Here’s a Google Street View image of the hotel:


View Larger Map

According to one online source, the Deluxe originally was built in 1960 as a Holiday Inn.

NewLife Homes also renovated the Sundowner Motel and the Luna Lodge — both on Route 66 in Albuquerque — into low-income housing.

Bloomfield also told the newspaper he’s also interested in acquiring the De Anza Motor Lodge — which continues to sit after two failed redevelopments — and El Vado Motel, which the city days ago asked for proposals for redevelopment. El Vado must be partially used for low-income housing, which would be right in Bloomfield’s wheelhouse.

Albuquerque wants ideas for El Vado Motel April 3, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Motels, Preservation.
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The City of Albuquerque has floated ideas on what to do with the historic but long-shuttered El Vado Motel on Route 66. Now it’s wanting to hear ideas from the public — and developers — as well.

According to Albuquerque Business First, the city on Friday released a request for proposals for the 1937 motel. The newspaper talked to city planning department spokeswoman Debra Nason:

The city’s RFP is wide open and is encouraging developers to come up with creative uses for the properties.

“It would be nice to see, as always, that it could come back as the business that died,” Nason said. “It’s wide open, and it will depend on what people come up with.”

“We hope the little old El Vado will get a breath of fresh air. It’s right on Route 66, and there’s a lot of sentiment to see it redeveloped as a boutique hotel. We’ll just see,” she said.

The deadline for submitting proposals is July 3. The Albuquerque Development Commission will look at those proposals and may schedule a hearing about them the following month.

A link to the documents for the RFP for El Vado is here. Those with questions should contact Rebecca Velarde at 505-924-3844.

Irish immigrant Daniel Murphy opened El Vado Auto Court Motel on Route 66 in 1937. It’s cited as one of the best examples of pre-World War II motels in New Mexico. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

El Vado closed in 2005 after new owner Richard Gonzales said he wanted to bulldoze it for luxury townhouses. The city seized the property a few years later after a long fight to save it.

UPDATE: A report this morning by KRQE-TV in Albuquerque said proposals must come with an important addition:

Due to some of the property being bought with federal funds, a housing unit with more than half being affordable living must go up.

(Image of El Vado Motel’s neon sign by Boortz47 via Flickr)

Suburban Chicago county approves Route 66 marketing plan March 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bicycling, Motels, Signs.
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The board of Will County, Ill., recently approved a new marketing plan for a long-overlooked section of Route 66 from Joliet to Braidwood, reported the Southtown Star.

The newspaper said:

There is an “untapped tourism potential” here, and tying all these natural, recreational and historical amenities together is historic Route 66, said project consultant Ferhat Zerin, of Gingko Planning and Design.

“Thousands of people drive here, but do not stop,” she said, as she presented the completed plan to the County Board. Many other towns along historic Route 66 which stretches all the way to California — have capitalized on this theme.

The goal is to encourage tourists to spend a day or two here, visiting the Joliet Splash Park, the Jackhammers, Route 66 Raceway, the historic sites, trails, parks, farms and restaurants.

The plan includes forming a tourism advisory council of city officials, business owners and venue operators, with funding the plan through grants, donations, transportation taxes and fees.

Among the plans to market Route 66 in the region:

  • Adding signs along Interstate 80, Interstate 57 and Route 66 to direct drivers to destinations, plus murals on railroad overpasses.
  • A specific identity and brand name tying Route 66 and Will County.
  • Connecting existing bicycle trails, plus new trails along Route 53, aka Route 66.
  • Adding features at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie such as an observation tower and a 1,200-acre bison grazing area.
  • Implementing Wilmington’s vision for Island City, which includes a kayak course.
  • Creating more iconic Route 66-themed photo ops.
  • More events, such as classic car nights, a Route 66 bicycle race, fishing tournament, and festivals.
  • Developing more hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to encourage overnight stays.

This story is yet another sign that Route 66 tourism has met a sea change in recent years that I wrote about a few weeks ago. The Chicago area, which long has treated Route 66 tourism with mild interest or indifference, seems to be coming around. The 2006 release of the Disney-Pixar film “Cars” seems to have lit the fuse, and the Route 66 Economic Impact Report in late 2011 has led many officials to take a much harder and longer look at Route 66 tourism.

(Image of the Joliet Area Historical Museum sign by ElectraSteph via Flickr)

Southwest Missouri station puts Route 66 segments online March 18, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Businesses, Gas stations, History, Motels, People, Television, Vehicles.
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Years ago, KY3-TV reporter Ed Fillmer, a native of the Route 66 town of Marshfield, Mo., shot segments about Route 66 in Missouri.

Yesterday, the Springfield, Mo., station put those segments online. The video cannot be embedded, but I’ve provided direct links and descriptions of them.

Some of these videos date to the 1970s. I recommend you watch them; they’re not only well-done, but you’ll probably see a slice of history you haven’t seen before.

An interview with Glenn “Wrink” Wrinkle, longtime owner of Wrink’s Market in Lebanon, Mo. The market was celebrating its 50th anniversary during the segment in 2000. Wrinkle died a few years later, and the market is closed despite fitful attempts to keep it operating.

An interview with Thelma White, longtime co-operator of Whitehall Mercantile in Halltown, Mo. She co-founded the Route 66 Association of Missouri. White died in 2010.

A history of Route 66 State Park and the evacuated town of Times Beach, Mo. The Steiny’s Inn converted into a visitors center for the park is still there, but the bridge closed some years later, making it more difficult to use the rest of the park. The segment was shot in 1999.

A look at McDowell’s Garage in Strafford, Mo., which opened in 1924 and was still operating when the segment was shot. This looks like one of the 1970s segments.

A look at closed gas stations in the Missouri Ozarks, including one owner in Phillipsburg who had s a still-operating gravity-fed pump.

A look at old travel courts in the Ozarks, including the Abbylee Court and the still-operating Rest Haven Court.

A look at the “Route 66″ television show and Corvettes.

UPDATE 3/18/2014: The station added another segment — a 1990 interview with Harold and Pauline Armstrong, longtime owners of the Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Mo. The Armstrongs died a few years ago, but Connie Echols bought the property and restored and improved it.

(A screen capture of Glenn Wrinkle from the Wrink’s Market segment.)

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