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Back to Future, with an Orange Roof


When William Faulkner wrote "The past is never dead. It's not even past" he certainly wasn't thinking about a Howard Johnson Motor Lodge, but it's an apt opener for this story: A former HoJo in Des Moines, IA, that was converted to an apartment house and its restaurant into a medical office will now be returned to its original use in all its 1962 glory.

It became an apartment building in 1988,  but the developers who own it now say that apartments are "underperforming assets" and plan to spend $18.3 million recreating the original hotel, complete with restaurant and driveway canopy. The existing tenants will be relocated by the company.

The Des Moines City Council has approved a 14-year tax abatement for the project, which is scheduled to start next year with the hotel opening in late 2021. It will be one of the few remaining hotels operating under the name, now a Wyndham brand. The restaurant, sadly, will not be a Howard Johnson. Only one restaurant, in Lake George, NY, still has the rights to that mark.

Oh, and...wait for it...the developers are applying to the state for state credits that are available for historic buildings. Yes, we've lived that long!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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