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Revamping the Mother Road: City Announces Winners of Route 66 Sign Improvement Grants

14 historic Route 66 signs will be funded for restoration and rehabilitation.
February 23, 2024

Last summer, Mayor Tim Keller and City leaders announced the Department of Arts & Culture (DAC) and Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency (MRA) would invest $432,000 into a Route 66 sign improvement program along Central Avenue, historic Route 66, in Albuquerque.

The section of Route 66 that moves through Albuquerque has long been recognized for its eye-catching and culturally-unique vintage signage. Restoration would not only preserve the nostalgic elements of this historic era, but would also serve as a celebration of artistic significance found on the national route.

“The vintage visual culture along Albuquerque’s own iconic stretch of Route 66 is something we cherish as uniquely ours. Restoration not only celebrates this city’s history, it preserves it for our families and generations to come,” said Mayor Keller. “Investment in this type of revitalization is a great example of how we can honor our city’s cultural past while elevating our status as a modern tourist destination.”

“Central Avenue is Albuquerque’s most significant stretch of historic Route 66 and an important part of our city’s heritage,” explained City Councilor Klarissa Peña. “As we approach its centennial celebration in 2026, it is imperative that we continue to bolster energy, economic impact, activation, and tourism along this road of historical significance.”

As part of the cross-departmental partnership known as Revamp Route 66, MRA will distribute monetary awards to property owners and businesses along Central Avenue who have a historic sign they want to improve. Of more than 25 applications received, a team of evaluators chose 14 to fund for rehab projects leading up to the Route 66 Centennial in 2025-2026.

City staff in DAC, MRA, Public Art, and Planning, along with community artists with Friends of the Orphan Signs, evaluated the signs based on historic significance, ability to improve the streetscape, positive impact on economic vitality, and overall strength of the application.

The award winners are:

5501 Plaza, 5431 Central Ave. NW
Americana Motel, 5908 Central Ave. SW
Arrive Hotel, 717 Central Ave. NW
Central Grill, 2056 Central Ave SW
The Dog House, 1216 Central Ave. SW
Imperial Inn, 701 Central Ave. NE
Loma Verde Apartments, 7503 Central Ave. SE
Pickleballer, 1720 Central Ave. SW
Route 66 Barber, 5303 Central Ave. NW
Sandia Peak Inn, 4614 Central Ave. SW
Tewa Lodge, 5715 Central Ave. SE
Trade Winds Shopping Center, 5400 Central Ave. SE
Former Utility Shack, 11035 Central Ave. NE
Westward Ho Motel, 7500 Central Ave. SW

Signs awarded funding lie in City Council Districts 2, 3, 6, and 9 and represent the breadth of Route 66’s historically significant period in Albuquerque. The Revamp Route 66: Sign Improvement Program is part of a larger Route 66 Centennial Campaign, ramping up in 2025 to celebrate 100 years of the route for its official birthday November 11, 2026.

The Revamp Route 66: Sign Improvement Grant Program funding comes in part from set-aside support from Councilor Peña as enacted by Resolution R-22-53.

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