By Richard Metcalf / Albuquerque Journal Writer, Thursday, April 9th, 2015 at 3:22pm
ALBUQUERQUE — A six-story building that symbolized the crash in commercial real estate has been resurrected as a 121-room Home 2 Suites by a pair of local companies and will open for business on Monday.
Highly visible from the Big-I at 1660 University NE, Home 2 Suites is a Hilton Worldwide brand described as a mid-scale extended-stay hotel. With the location’s proximity to the University of New Mexico and several office hubs, the target market is expected to be people staying while on business.
The more-than-yearlong effort to complete the hotel, originally planned as a Four Points by Sheraton, was accomplished by a group of local investors headed by Brad Allen and Lance Sigmon of Allen Sigmon Real Estate Group and Prakash Sundaram of Total Management Systems.
Noting that the pioneering founder of the Hilton brand was New Mexico native Conrad Hilton, Allen told the Journal, “An entrepreneur born in the 1800s is still impacting New Mexico and inspiring yet another generation of entrepreneurs.”
Construction of the $11.5 million hotel building began in 2007 but shut down a year later when the local developer lost construction funding during the credit freeze. Partially complete, the steel-frame building sat fenced off and idle until the local investor group purchased it out of foreclosure in late 2013.
The five-story office building next door at 1650 University NE lost its biggest tenant in 2009 and was empty when the University of New Mexico bought it out of foreclosure in late 2010.
The 97,441-square-foot hotel will have 123 guest rooms, including 18 suites that each have a small kitchen and work station. Amenities include an indoor pool, small store, integrated fitness and laundry room, breakfast room and common areas.
The hotel will be the first Home 2 Suites in New Mexico and among the first 50 to open nationwide, Sigmon said. The almost 1½-year process to complete and open the hotel — as long as it would take to build new — stemmed from several factors, he said.
“It was 75 percent complete, so we had to investigate and rediscover what was inside,” he said. “There were little changes to code requirements from the time it was approved until we got it. We also had to retrofit the building under a new brand with new design guidelines.”
Allen said the business environment is still risky for opening a new hotel, but he’s optimistic about the success of the Home 2 Suites, which will employ about 30 people. The hotel’s development team includes Scott Anderson, architect; Sundaram Builders, general contractor; and Century Bank, lender.