Serving the High Plains

Motel owner embarks on restoration

This week, the owner of the Roadrunner Lodge Motel in Tucumcari embarks on a quest he's planned for about seven years - restoring the west side of a long-closed property that was La Plaza Court motel.

Owner David Brenner and his now-former wife Amanda purchased the property seven years ago that contained two Route 66 motels - the Leatherwood Manor motel on the east side and La Plaza Court on the west side.

Because the Leatherwood was newer (built in 1964) and had more rooms, they restored that side first and rechristened it as the Roadrunner Lodge Motel.

Brenner, who now is the sole owner of the property, said during a telephone interview last week he's going to begin on restoring the La Plaza side after finishing a refinancing deal.

"It's sort of a bad financial decision because it has fewer rooms than this other side, and it's probably going to cost twice as much to do the renovation work," he said. "But I want to restore that piece of history to the area."

The 17-room La Plaza was built in 1947, and Brenner said "we'll put it back up as we can in the original architectural style."

That would include the original garages, door awnings, neon-light swirls and perhaps a "La Plaza" neon sign on the west side of the building.

One thing that won't change is the shared lobby between the two properties, Brenner said, save for removing an interior wall between them.

"We're not going to be tearing down half the office to bring back the building to what it was," he said.

The work will begin this week with an Albuquerque contractor putting a new roof on the motel, plus getting those long-locked room doors open.

Brenner said he has "no idea" what's behind many of those doors.

"We're about to find out," he said. "Some of those rooms undoubtedly will be in pretty bad shape. We'll just have to see what we see. This is the fun part about (renovation) work. When you open something up, you learn how much more work there is. I want to prepare myself for the worst.

"I know we're going to have to replace the plumbing, and I'm fairly certain the electrical systems will have to be handled one way or another. That side of the property doesn't even have power right now."

Brenner said he doesn't have a timetable of when La Plaza renovations will be finished, though he said it would be "at least a year."

He said La Plaza Court hasn't been open in 12 years and "probably longer."

Though Brenner has committed to restoring the late 1940s or early 1950s look of La Plaza Court, he isn't sure it will reopen as a motel.

"I'm not married to making it into lodging right now, even though right now business is incredible," he said. "One everything slows down post-pandemic and everyone's got the travel bug out of their system and we see things go back to a more normal pattern of traffic, it may not make sense to have those additional rooms."

Among the options Brenner said he is considering is converting the rooms into professional offices or short-term housing for Mesalands Community College students. He's also considering artist-in-residence housing, too.