El Vado project nearing completion

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - The once dilapidated, abandoned El Vado motel and its neighboring lot are now teeming with new life.

"I've always wanted to do a project like this," Chad Rennaker, President of Portland-based Palindrome Communities and the project developer, said.

It's been years in the making, but the rundown site on Central near the BioPark is nearly restored to its former glory... with a major twist.

"It's a new concept for Albuquerque. It takes a little while for people to grasp it, but generally everyone is very excited," he said.

Rennaker won the City of Albuquerque's heart with his idea for the site and the Casa Grande site nextdoor back in 2014.

On Wednesday, he gave KRQE News 13 a tour of what's done and what's to come.

All but a handful of the apartments are occupied, with some low-income housing.

Poolside hotel rooms that mimic old carports are nearing completion.

Several local eateries, like Zendo coffee, have claimed their 'food pods,' and new retail shops are slowly opening their doors.

The first of the shops to open was Metal the Store, an offshoot of Michael Wieclaw's Metal the Brand. You might recognize his work, from the bacon and eggs Zia to the Gov. Susana Martinez pizza t-shirt.

"I wanted to make something really beautiful. Not just a store. But a place where people could go to have such an experience. I mean, when you go into my store you can get into a ball pit full of maggots," Wieclaw said.

He's at most local festivals selling his art, along with grower's markets and the Railyards, and he'll continue to do that. Now, he's also got a brick and mortar -- well, adobe -- shop that's as interesting as his work.

"Being a part of something so historic and giving it some new life gives me a lot of local pride," Wieclaw said.

The City of Albuquerque bought the Casa Grande and El Vado sites for more than $2 million back in 2010, then put out on RFP a few years later.

Rennaker's $16 million project is expected to be done by mid-April.


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