One of Oklahoma City's last Route 66 motels closes
One of Oklahoma City's last Route 66 motels has been sold to a used car dealer and closed its doors.
The former owners of the Carlyle Motel, 3600 NW 39 Expressway, sparked controversy in 2013 when they scrapped its 1950s-vintage neon sign. The sign had been a landmark for Route 66 travelers in Oklahoma City since at least 1958. Lowest Price Auto Sales LLC purchased the old motor court motel from longtime owners Thakorbhai and Taraben Patel at the end of May for $680,000, according to property records.
Lowest Price Auto Sales owner Mohammad Momdnia said he may turn the property into a used car dealership, or sell it if a good offer comes along. He said he has no plans currently to tear down any of the buildings on the property.
One major selling point is the motel's own service road that is separated from traffic on NW 39 by a median, he said.
“It's an exceptional piece of property,” Momdnia said. “It has a private boulevard so people can slow down, I think it's the only thing on that whole piece of 39th that has that.”
By Monday, many of the motel's wall air-conditioning units had been removed and several rooms were unsecured, some missing beds and other pieces of furniture.
The motel's swimming pool was filled in with sod several years ago.
A moving truck advertising cash for used cars was parked in front of the motel, near the Interstate 44 interchange.
The motel sits on the old alignment of U.S. 66.
Rival motel is car lot
Another former Route 66 motel, Nuhoma Motel, 3528 NW 39 Expressway, directly to the east of the Carlyle, has been turned into a used car lot, although many of the old buildings remain on the site. Oklahoma City records show a demolition permit for one of the Nuhoma buildings was issued in May and the building, the former motel office, has been partially torn down with an excavator.
Melvena Heisch, deputy state historic preservation officer, said the Carlyle Motel property is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, although the property never has been nominated.
Many of Oklahoma's Route 66 motels have disappeared over the past several decades as travelers' preferences moved to large motel chains with easily recognizable brands, Heisch said.
“There's definitely been a lot of interest in finding ways to keep them operating,” Heisch said. “These motels are becoming an endangered species.”
The property could be eligible for state and federal tax credits if an investor wanted to restore the property, Heisch said.