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El Vado Motel Neon Sign Brought Back to Life

City and Private Developers Break Ground on Restoration of El Vado Motel and Redevelopment of the Former Casa Grande Site

February 10, 2017

Albuquerque, NM- For the first time in years, the 80-year-old El Vado Motel sign is greeting motorists on Route 66 after the City secured a grant to fund the restoration. Mayor Richard J. Berry, the Planning Department's Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency (MRA), the Department of Family and Community Services, Palindrome, and Family Housing Development Corporation (FHDC) hosted a sign lighting ceremony today to announce that work has begun on the El Vado Motel/Casa Grande site redevelopment project.

The historic motel and adjacent site are being redeveloped by Palindrome, a company known for developing catalytic projects in neighborhoods throughout the country, and FHDC, a local affordable housing developer. The first step was to refurbish and re-light the classic neon sign that greeted travelers since 1937.

"The El Vado Motel is an iconic symbol that speaks to the character of Route 66, the Mother Road," said Mayor Richard J. Berry. "This transit-oriented redevelopment project will spark new life into the area and will add to the El Vado's charm with modern amenities that will further strengthen Albuquerque and the Central corridor as a place to live, work and play."

The El Vado/Casa Grande redevelopment project is the result of a public/private partnership between the MRA, the City's Department of Family and Community Services, Palindrome and FHDC. Palindrome signed an agreement with the MRA in July 2016 to redevelop the El Vado Motel, and FHDC signed an agreement with the Department of Family and Community Services in July 2016 to develop the former Casa Grande Restaurant site. Both sites will be developed to create a single mixed-use development that offers a variety of amenities. Both Palindrome and FHDC are proud to work with the city on this catalytic redevelopment project.

"This is more than a redevelopment. We're aiming to transport guests and visitors to a bygone era, when Route 66 was a major force of American culture," said Chad Rennaker, CEO of Palindrome. "For Palindrome, this is a passion project. We've worked to redevelop several other historic neighborhoods, and it's an honor to work with the City to bring back these Pueblo Revival buildings."

El Vado is one of the few remaining classic Route 66 motels. This community redevelopment project will not only preserve the site, but add to it with a boutique motel, an amphitheater, an event center, a Ponderosa Brewery tap room, restaurant pods, a spa, and adjacent retail and mixed-income housing. Once completed, this mixed-use facility will modernize the historic charm of the El Vado and serve generations of Albuquerque residents for years to come on Route 66.

This redevelopment project is just the latest in a series of projects that are intended to remove blight, stimulate economic development, create housing and job opportunities, and enhance the overall appeal of Albuquerque's Central Avenue corridor and Downtown area. Some of those redevelopment projects include the Imperial Building, the One Central Entertainment Hub and Old Albuquerque High.

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About the Planning Department

The City of Albuquerque Planning Department provides a full range of services from processing building permits to ensuring code compliance and developing long-range regional plans/policies. The Planning Department also houses several project review boards and commissions including, but not limited to: Development Review Board, Environmental Planning Commission, and the Zoning Hearing Examiner. In addition, the Planning Department also houses the Office of Neighborhood Coordination and the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency.

For more information about the Planning Department, visit:

About the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency

The MRA promotes redevelopment in distressed areas. This is accomplished through creating metropolitan redevelopment areas, strategic planning to redevelop these areas, purchasing property for projects that can act as an anchor for other new development in the area, and entering into public/private partnerships where the private sector acts as the developer.

For more information on the Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency or its projects, visit

About the Department of Family and Community Services

The Department of Family and Community Services provides quality health and social services, housing, recreation, and education to improve the quality of life in Albuquerque.

For more information about the Department of Family and Community Services, visit: