May 17--The Route 66 motel where unknown computer geeks Paul Allen and Bill Gates had crash pads in the 1970s will open to the public Tuesday to show off the results of a $5.4 million green renovation into 71 apartments.
Project developer NewLife Homes, city of Albuquerque, New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority and others will hold a public grand opening with live entertainment and food at the Sundowner Motel, 6101 Central NE, starting at 11 a.m.
A representative of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, which has a permanent exhibit called "Startup: Albuquerque and the Personal Computer Revolution," is scheduled to speak on the connection between the founders of Microsoft and the Sundowner.
NewLife Executive Director John Bloomfield said he contacted the personal staffs of Allen and Gates with an invitation. He said he pitched it by saying: "This would be a nostalgic event for them. We'd like them to come and talk. We can make it low-key, without a media announcement, if that's what they want."
Built in 1959 and opened in 1960, the Sundowner already had fallen on hard times due to the opening of Interstate 40 when Allen and Gates took lodging there in 1975.
The motel is a couple of blocks away from the Cal-Linn Building, where the pair worked at the office of MITS, maker of the Altair personal computer.
Much has changed at the Sundowner over the past year or so, during which time the vacant property was gutted and turned into housing with green certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.
"I think they (Allen and Gates) would still recognize it," Bloomfield said.
Most of the apartments are income-restricted, with a quarter of them set aside for people with special needs. The property is fully leased.
"It's going to be festive," Bloomfield said about the grand opening. "It will be fun for the residents. They'll be conducting tours."
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