FARMINGTON – Nestled along the side of Aztec Boulevard is the Step Back Inn, a former inn turned apartment building that will cater to a very specific demographic – single women 60 and older.
People came from all over, said owner Tweeti Blancett, to see the Aztec Ruins, and for a quaint inn, people often booked their stay at the Step Back Inn.
“I built it from the ground up, and I’ve loved it,” Blancett said. “You meet the most wonderful people in the whole world.”
Blancett, who was born in Hawaii before moving to New Mexico as a toddler, enjoyed the hospitality industry, but as an active member in her community, Blancett noticed a need for a certain type of housing for women of a certain age.
“This is the demographic of people who are underrepresented, in my opinion,” Blancett said. “There’s availability for seniors, but it’s not always the most secure environment.”
The hotel has one entrance and an emergency exit; otherwise, there is no way inside. There are also cameras installed all over the property, and residents are given keys to the building as well as separate keys to their own unit. The building is currently having some renovations done.
“It’s a small enclosed community that can interrelate with one another because their interests are much the same, and their lifestyles are much the same,” Blancett said. “I am hoping to build a community of women who can rely on each other and enjoy doing things with each other and just have fun.”
Blancett said she’s not a man-hater, as is evident by her 56 years of marriage, but the rooms are outfitted for a single person, and Blancett said she thinks the residents will feel more secure if they are all women than if men and women mixed.
Blancett said she simply saw a need for women-only housing. Two extended care centers also noted a need for more housing options before people transition to assisted living, she said.
“I’ve been married for 56 years and I am still married,” Blancett said. “I just saw a need in the community, and I felt like if I was going to repurpose this hotel ... and I thought if I had to repurpose it because of COVID, that I would do something that was unique and had a purpose.”
The rooms are conjoined so that one original hotel room makes up the living area and a small kitchen with an air fryer counter-top oven and mid-size fridge, and the other room holds the bedroom and bathroom.
There are 17 units available in the building. There are also suites for rent where visiting family members can stay.
“There were women perfectly independent well into their 80s who are independent and don’t want to be in a care facility,” Blancett said. “They want to live their own life, have their own place, they want to be independent. So I am trying to meet that need.”
Apart from the security features and all-inclusive utilities paid, Blancett said the apartments will have monthly birthday dinners to celebrate the residents who were born in each month. While the units do not have full-size kitchens, the building has a full kitchen with a stove and oven attached to the parlor/dining area where residents are welcome to cook family meals.
Each door has a plaque featuring a name of historical significance. The names come from the first 40 names registered with the city clerk in Aztec, she said. She added the plaques back when the building was a hotel, but she plans to keep them now that it is apartments.
Blancett did not disclose the pricing of the apartments, but described them as upscale.