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Future of iconic No-Tel Motel sign remains uncertain

The City of Tucson may remove the only piece left of the No-Tel Motel from the property on North Oracle Road
No-tel Motel sign
Posted at 8:22 AM, Mar 29, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-29 11:22:55-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Like the name suggests, the No-Tel Motel on North Oracle Road was not known for its squeaky clean reputation. The motel had a history of seedy activities and offered rates by the week, night, or hour.

The stories of things that went on there made it a bit of a local landmark, according to Jude Cook, founder of the Ignite Sign Art Museum.

"The No-Tel Motel is actually a draw," he said. "People hear about it and they want to drive by and see it. They come into town, they spend money, they stay at hotels.”

In 2022, the City of Tucson bought the property and tore down the motel to build Milagro on Oracle, a low-income senior housing complex. Its iconic yellow, rectangular sign remained.

Milagro on Oracle is supposed to open its doors in 2025, but the sign's future remains uncertain.

Cook sees the sign, and other signs that have dotted the Tucson landscape for decades, as daily relics from eras that should be preserved.

“If we destroy this stuff, we’re destined to repeat things we shouldn’t," Cook said. "You know, keep this stuff around as a memory.”

The City of Tucson's Department of Housing and Community Development said they want to preserve the sign, but the current plan is to remove it from the property.

Cook sees the best case scenario as the motel sign remaining on the property.

He was included in an email sent to Councilman Kevin Dahl by Demion Clinco, a former state representative and CEO of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, asking that the sign stay where it is.

Worst case, Cook said he'd be willing to take the sign in at Ignite.

"I don’t want it here," he said. "But if it has to come down, it’s got to come here. No question about it.”

He also said he'd be willing to give it back if they ever changed their minds.

Alex Dowd is a multimedia journalist at KGUN 9, where her work combines her two favorite hobbies: talking to new people and learning about the community around her. Her goal is to eventually meet every single person in Tucson. Share your story ideas with Alex via email,, or connecting on Instagram or X.