Housing development in the works off Sunnyside Road in Idaho Falls

IDAHO FALLS – A development project is underway on the site of two abandoned buildings in Idaho Falls.

The building formerly occupied by The Monarch Daycare at 810 East Sunnyside Road has been vacant for about eight months. The outside is covered in graffiti and many people think it’s an eyesore in the community. Another nearby building to the west, which served as storage space for an electricity company, is also unoccupied.

Demolition of the two buildings began Thursday morning to make way for condos and townhouses there. Concordia Development Group in Idaho Falls purchased the property about a year ago, and Eagle Rock Engineering is designing the project.

Concordia Development Group owner Brandt Monette told EastIdahoNews.com construction of 136 units is expected to begin in the next four weeks. There will be 40 townhouses and 96 condominiums and each unit will be between 1,100 and 1,400 square feet.

“Townhouses are a little nicer. Our townhouses are 1,807 square feet. It’s a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom product line with a loft, and then some don’t have a loft and a fourth bedroom,” says Monette. “We are building the exact same floor plan behind Deseret Industries in Ammon.”

Monette estimates the project will take up to three years.

Demolition crews began removing trees and other debris around the Monarch Daycare building on Thursday. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

An influx of people to the area in recent years has created an increased demand for housing. Idaho Falls, in particular, saw an increase of more than 8,000 people from April 2010 to April 2020, according to the US Census.

Monette says that one of the attractions of this project is to be able to respond to a housing shortage created by the increase in population.

“According to our studies, there are currently more than 2,000 homes needed on the market,” says Monette. “In Bonneville County alone, if you look at the number of building permits we’re getting, we don’t have the business base of contractors to ever (meet that demand), so we’re going to be in a critical shortage of housing for years. to come.”

Each unit will be available for sale when completed and priced between $120,000 and $130,000.

The 6.7-acre lot’s proximity to city amenities makes it a good choice for a housing development, Monette says.

“The location is close to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, close to all of the retail on Hitt Road and is exceptionally well positioned in terms of how Sunnyside was planned for access quick to both sides of town and to Ammon, to be able to access the highway,” he explains.

Monette also says he’s close to some of the nicest schools and hopes to attract families “in a variety of income brackets” so their children can attend school there and live in an affluent neighborhood. .

rendered in aspen
A rendering of what townhouses might like. | Idaho City Falls

A long history with good memories for many

George and Janiss Balmforth were the original owners of The Monarch building. They opened it as a wedding and reception center in the 1960s as The Willows.

Linda Halter bought them in 1998 and continued to operate it as a wedding venue before selling it to Laura Gray in the early 2000s.

“We changed the name to The Monarch when we got it,” says Gray. “We kept it as a wedding venue for the first eight years, then we turned it into a daycare.”

the willows
A photo of The Willows Wedding and Reception Center provided by Linda Halter.

It operated as a daycare until last August when Gray sold it to Concordia Development.

Gray says there are many fond memories attached to this building for so many people over the years. She remembers her brother and one of his children getting married there before she owned it.

After being vacant for so long, she’s happy to see someone doing something about it.

“I think it’s going to be great when they do. I hate what is happening right now with the building as it is. It was ransacked and people came in, took things out and just destroyed it. The graffiti everywhere is driving me crazy,” Gray says.

Monette says the housing development will be a great project for the city and he is excited to see it moving forward.

“We are just very excited. This will be one of the first condominium projects in the city of Idaho Falls in nearly 40 years,” he said. “The biggest stress in this market is the (dramatically rising rent and house prices). It’s a challenge for those who have lived here forever (entering) the home buyer market and don’t have can’t afford to live here. This project will provide such a wide range in this more affordable bracket for people to access property.”

City Council approved the project proposal at its March 31 meeting. Developers are finalizing the veneer process, which Deputy Planner Kerry Beutler says will be presented to city officials in May or June.

Graffiti on Sunnyside Road Houses
Vacant buildings on the 6.7-acre lot had been ransacked and covered in graffiti during the time they were vacant. A demolition of the buildings is currently in progress. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

Sara H. Byrd