The Bonneville Apartments hopes to receive its certificate of occupancy by Dec. 30. Though no specific date is set, The Housing Company plans to open the building to residents in January and it is already accepting applications.
Residents will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Of the 35 available apartments, four will be priced at market value, one will be set aside for the resident building manager and the remaining 30 will be income-based. Officials with The Housing Company have chosen to make all apartments available at once, rather than a phased opening.
Income-based rental rates will be determined by Idaho Falls median income and the income bracket of the applicant applying. The apartments range in size and price from $427 for a studio apartment and $982 for a three-bedroom apartment.
On the ground floor of the building, 5,000 square feet have been set aside for commercial use. Though the business spaces have not been leased yet, the building is set up to anticipate three separate businesses on that first floor.
The basement will have both a child play center and storage area for The Bonneville Apartments’ residents.
With just one month before the building’s owners hope to receive their certification, the remaining work involves installing an elevator, finishing flooring, touch-up paint, system testing and clean up, said senior project manager Rick Lawrence of construction contractor Bateman-Hall.
Walking through the top four floors of the five-story building, it is clear the apartments have been improved from the former converted hotel room turned single-occupancy apartments that were there before The Bonneville Apartments project began in July 2018. The new apartments feature bright white walls, wood floors, and modern hanging light fixtures. Yet the view of downtown is the same.
The project had a unique set of challenges in that the building, the former Bonneville Hotel, was built in 1927 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
“We did work with the State Historic Preservation Office and the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., to do a complete historic renovation on the building,” Kathryn Almberg, director of The Housing Company.
For the building’s exterior, The Housing Company hired a restoration expert who went through old newspapers to find photos of the original building. In 1951, granite was put over part of the exterior. When the granite was removed, much of the original artwork underneath was destroyed in the process. The goal was to bring make the exterior look as close to the original 1927 building as possible.
“We couldn’t find a photo that we could zoom in close enough to see to detail of the rosettes,” said lead project manager Rick Laurence. “We had to find the molding casts.”
Lawrence said the biggest challenges involved working with architectural information that is almost a century old.
“The plans we had were from 1926,” Lawrence said. “Drawings were a lot less detailed back then.”
The interior couldn’t be preserved to the same extent as the exterior. The interior ended up being almost completely redone, with redesigned floor plans, new electrical, heating, ventilation and ventilation systems.
“We obviously had to gut the building because it was very dilapidated on the interior and required extensive upgrades,” Alberg said.
One project that The Housing Company had originally planned was a rooftop deck, however, once company officials saw the extent of the roof’s damage, they decided the cost was prohibitive, Almberg said. The roof was redone in a way that one could be added at a future time, said Laurence.
The Bonneville Apartments will be the largest apartment complex in downtown Idaho Falls. Officials with both the city of Idaho Falls and the Idaho Falls Downtown Development Corporation hope that the project will further help to revitalize downtown.
“We have done market studies and housing studies, and we know there is certainly a higher demand for downtown living than there is a supply,” said Brad Cramer, director of Idaho Falls Community Development Services. “We hope that it brings a little bit more stability to the downtown population so that they can live and get their daily needs, such as shopping and work, close to home.”
Almberg explained that The Housing Company, a Boise-based subsidiary of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, had added apartments in other downtowns in Idaho. According to her, when there aren’t enough people living downtown, the businesses located there struggle.
“A lot of downtowns who don’t have many downtown residents, all the people come in and eat and all the people leave at five. And then the restaurants and everyone else struggle on the off hours, on the weekends and in the evenings,” Alberg said. “Downtowns are much more vibrant when there are people living and working in the downtown.”
Interested renters can apply for the waitlist now at bit.ly/BonnevilleApts or by calling 208-803-2759.