BOISE — The Idaho Legislature is fast-tracking a resolution commemorating the history of the Bonneville Hotel in Idaho Falls, hoping to have it in place in time for an opening ceremony at the newly renovated downtown landmark next week.
The House Local Government Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to send the resolution to the House’s second reading calendar, to speed up the process of getting it approved by the full House and then the Senate.
Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, introduced the resolution, which she said was crafted by former Idaho Falls lawmakers Linden Bateman and Ann Rydalch. The resolution goes through the history of the founding of Idaho and Idaho Falls, the hotel’s construction in 1927 and its recent remodeling.
“For the city of Idaho Falls, this is a good thing to do,” Ehardt said. “The Bonneville Hotel has been such a centerpiece, and those of us who grew up in Idaho Falls remember it in more of its heyday. It’s going to be nice to see it revitalized.”
The hotel, which is located near City Hall, has long been one of the most prominent buildings in downtown Idaho Falls. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
In more recent years, the Bonneville was a privately owned, low-income apartment building. The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency bought it in 2018 and The Housing Company, a Boise-based subsidiary of the Idaho Housing and Finance Association rebuilt it with some help from grants, tax credits and an investment from Optum. The refurbished hotel contains 35 units, most of which will be income-based with rents ranging from $427 for a studio apartment to $982 for a three-bedroom.
“It’s so wonderful to see how excited the community has been with the renovation of the Bonneville Hotel,” Downtown Development Director Catherine Smith said. “It’s pretty incredible that, not only on a local level, but also on a national level, people are recognizing what an important piece of history the Bonneville is. This really solidifies the building’s significance for generations to come. I’m very grateful for Barb Ehardt’s efforts.”
Ehardt told the committee a story about how, when she was in high school, she was invited to speak at a Republican event at the Bonneville with former congressmen George Hansen and Steve Symms and conservative author Cleon Skousen. Many people, she said, have memories of the Bonneville.
“It is important to the city of Idaho Falls (we’re) recognizing this hotel,” she said.
The Housing Company, Enterprise and Optum will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Jan. 30 at the Bonneville, 625 Park Ave.
“The grand opening of the Bonneville Apartments is a true cause for celebration,” Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said in a statement. “This historic edifice has served our community well for many years. It is gratifying to see that it will continue in service.
“A robust downtown functions 24/7. Businesses and offices bring daytime activity while the arts, restaurants and clubs provide evening activity. But only residents give around-the-clock life and energy to downtown. This is why we enthusiastically welcome the new residents of the Bonneville Apartments.”