Converting Hotels/Motels to Housing

Information about the City of Albuquerque's plan to covert hotel and motels to permanent housing.

Our Vision

Albuquerque needs more housing at all income levels. One strategy to quickly and cost-effectively create more housing is by converting old hotels/motels into affordable apartments.

  • These apartments would basic but safe
  • Professionally managed by a property management company
  • Mixed-income communities: some units will have rents affordable to low-income households, others will be market rate
  • Located throughout town, not all in one place
  • Public-private partnerships

View the presentation from the community meeting on December 6, 2022

View the recording of the virtual community meeting on December 13, 2022

FAQ's

Housing Forward sets a goal of creating additional rental housing for 1,000 households through motel/hotel conversions. While the private sector will complete some conversions on its own, the City also plans to actively support conversions through public-private partnerships. These FAQs provide more information about the motel/hotel conversions that the City will be working on.

Zoning and Building Requirements

Residents and Affordability

Supportive Services

Amenities

Transparency & Accountability

Process, Timeline & Next Steps


Zoning and Building Requirements

  • What will be the kitchen requirements for hotels/motels that are converted into housing?

    • Under the current Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO), hotel/motel conversions funded through the Department of Family and Community Services (DFCS) do not have to include a stove, oven or range. Conversions funded through DFCS must have a sink for washing dishes, a countertop, a fridge with a separate freezer compartment, an appliance for warming food (such as an induction burner or microwave) and an electrical outlet for plugging in that appliance. The City has proposed a change to the IDO that would allow all non-residential to residential conversions to use these reduced kitchen requirements.

  • How will tenants be able to cook healthy meals without a stove, oven or range? 

    • There are modern, affordable and safe appliances that allow people to cook healthy, nutritious food without a stove, oven or range. One example is an induction burner, which functions like a moveable stove top and has several safety features. As written, the proposed changes to the zoning code require the property owner to provide an appliance for preparing food. 

  • What are the requirements for converting a hotel/motel to efficiency apartments?

    • To convert a hotel/motel to apartments, the converted building must meet the residential requirements for a multi-family residential building, including any needed updates to the plumbing, ventilation system, and kitchen space. Conversion projects will also work with architects and contractors to implement solutions that reduce noise between rental units.

  • What are the parking requirements? Are there reduced parking requirements to facilitate conversions?

    • Any motel/hotel conversion will need to meet parking requirements in the IDO. The City has proposed changes to the IDO that would allow for reduced parking requirements for some affordable housing and multifamily housing projects. If passed these would apply to eligible hotel/motel conversion projects.

  • How will motel/hotel conversions impact historic neighborhoods with historic overlay zones?

    • Any property that is converted must be zoned for multi-family housing. Historic neighborhoods often have rules for façade design, windows, and other building materials. Any exterior renovations to a converted hotel must comply with these standards and would need to go through a review and decision process involving Historic Preservation staff and, in some cases, the Landmarks Commission.

Residents and Affordability

  • Will families be served?

    • The first conversion the City is working on will be efficiency apartments and will mainly serve single adults or couples without children. Future conversions may include larger configurations with multiple bedrooms that will be better suited to families.

  • Will these motel/hotel conversions create affordable housing?

    • These will be mixed-income communities. Some units will have market-rate rent and other units will be subsidized so they are affordable to lower-income households. The first conversion the City is working on will be efficiency apartments, which are naturally affordable to single adults earning around $27,000 per year. Some units will be subsidized so that households with lower incomes will also be able to live there.

  • Will Section 8 Housing Choice and other types of housing vouchers be accepted?

    • Under the new Source of Income requirements under the City’s Human Rights Ordinance, landlords cannot discriminate based on whether a tenant is using a housing voucher for rent.  Any conversion, whether it happens through the City or entirely privately, must follow these requirements.

  • What will be the criteria for tenants wanting to live in these units?

    • Tenants will need to follow the terms of their lease, just like any other tenant. There will be an application and tenant selection process managed by a professional management company which may include criminal history. It is important to keep in mind that access is a key principle of Housing Forward, and we are committed to ensuring that people who need safe, decent housing can access the new rental units created through these conversions.

       
  • Will conversions only serve households experiencing homelessness?

    • These projects will be mixed-income communities. While some residents may have experienced homelessness previously, these projects will not exclusively service people experiencing homelessness.

Supportive Services

  • What types of supportive services will be offered on site?

    • Projects funded through the City will have an onsite services coordinator. The role of the service coordinator will be to assess the needs of tenants and link them to appropriate resources and services, including medical care, substance use treatment, mental health treatment, life skills and other housing resources. The services coordinator will also help connect tenants to resources they need to increase their income, including federal disability benefits and vocational services. They will bring services to the housing site itself, such as organizing delivery of food boxes, vaccine clinics, financial literacy workshops and community activities. The service coordinator will be responsible for developing relationships with tenants, so that they are able to proactively address issues if a tenant is struggling, before it becomes a crisis.

  • Is there a process and support, such as financial literary, to assist transition towards other housing options including home ownership?

    • The Services Coordinator will link residents to services they need to accomplish their goals, including homeownership.

  • Is this the same as permanent supportive housing, where tenants are often exiting homelessness and receive wrap-around services?

    • Permanent supportive housing is a specific model for helping people experiencing homelessness with significant disabilities maintain housing. Permanent supportive housing includes help paying the rent plus intensive case management services. These conversions are not intended to be permanent supportive housing.

Amenities

  • Will some units be furnished?

    • The first conversion the City is working on will be fully furnished efficiency apartments. Not all conversion projects in Albuquerque would have pre-furnished units.

  • Will all the motels be wheelchair accessible?

    • Yes, conversions will meet all American with Disability Act (ADA) accessibility requirements.

  • Will the units be pet friendly?

    • Units that are part of City conversion projects will be pet friendly. The City knows that pets are part of peoples’ family.

  • How will laundry be handled?

    • The City intends to offer laundry facilities for residents. Many hotels already have guest laundry facilities available that could be retained during a conversion.

  • Will there be a community kitchen or other indoor or outdoor shared space?

    • Some hotels already have either indoor or outdoor community space, such as a small dining where guests can eat a continental breakfast. Whenever possible, these spaces would be retained during the conversion. A community kitchen could be included if the space allowed for it and it was economically feasible.

  • Will the City work with neighborhoods to provide additional community amenities, such as dog parks, libraries and clinics?

    • City Departments will continue to work with neighborhoods, as they do now, to meet the need for community facilities and open spaces.

Transparency & Accountability

  • How will the City ensure these properties are safe and well managed?

    • The City has a long history of partnering with the private sector, primarily nonprofit developers, to develop affordable housing through new construction or acquisition/rehab. The City enters into contracts with these developers to ensure that their properties are well maintained and operated over the long-term. The City monitors each affordable housing project annually to ensure it is complying with the terms of the contract. In addition, the City requires the developer to use a professional property management company to manage the property. Tenants will need to comply with the terms of the lease, just as they do at other properties. The Albuquerque Police Department will address any criminal activities that take place at the property, as they do at other rental properties throughout the City.

  • What is the role for private developers in converting hotels to housing?

    • The City plans to provide funding to private developers to help with acquisition and/or rehab costs for motel/hotel conversion. Our hope is that City support will serve as a catalyst for more of these projects. We also hope that by amending the IDO to allow for alternative kitchen requirements, more private developers will be incentivized to convert underutilized motels/hotels into housing on their own.

Process, Timeline & Next Steps

  • What makes a hotel a good candidate for a conversion?

    • The City is looking at hotels or motels that are already zoned for multi-family housing that have 75 -120 rooms and are in relatively good condition.

  • Where will these properties be located?

    • We believe in the need to add housing options across the community, giving tenants options to be near jobs, transportation and social networks. There are hotels/motels that meet our criteria in a variety of locations in town.

  • Has the City already acquired a hotel/motel? How will the acquisition price be determined?

    • There are several hotels that we have looked at and are assessing. We are at different points in the process, from having an appraisal done on one property to actively negotiating a contract on another property. The City has not yet finalized an agreement to purchase a hotel. The acquisition price will be negotiated between City and the owner, with the appraised value used as a starting point.

  • What is your time-frame to get at least one conversion done? 

    • We are actively looking at motels/hotels and hope to acquire our first property in early 2023, identify a developer to partner with in spring 2023, and begin rehabilitation in mid-2023.

  • How many other hotels have been converted?

    • The City of Albuquerque has funded three conversions of old and dilapidated Route 66 motels into housing. These projects, The Sundowner, Luna Lodge, and Imperial Inn, provide a mix of market rate and affordable rental housing. Other successful conversions have taken place in cities such as Santa Fe, Denver, and Houston.

  • How will developers and property management companies be selected?

    • Once the City acquires a motel/hotel, it will release a Request for Proposal to select a developer to rehab the property. The City will then enter into a contract with that developer, which will include funding needed to rehab the property. The developer selects the property management company. The City is required to contract with a nonprofit organization, but a for-profit entity, including small property owners, could partner with nonprofit organizations.

  • What are the operating costs for converted properties?

    • Ongoing operating costs include things like property management staff, maintenance and cleaning of common spaces. Most operating costs will be covered by the rental income generated by the project.