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Growing East Idaho: Investors work to restore the historic Rogers building

Rogers Building
Bre Clark / KIFI
The historic Rogers building located at 545 Shoup Ave, Idaho Falls, ID 83402

The wave of growth in East Idaho has presented new opportunities for developers in downtown Idaho Falls. Jayce Howell, his wife Tawni and his partners Mike Allen, Kris Taylor, and Tasha Taylor are working to keep downtown's historic buildings from falling into the wrong hands.

"I had been here my whole life and when I went into some of these buildings I just felt guilty. Guilt just overwhelmed me because these buildings are amazing," Jayce Howell said.

One of the buildings that investors are working to restore and modernize is the old Rogers building. It was first built in 1937 as a hotel. It welcomed guests like President Herbert Hoover and famous western movie star Roy Rogers.

"What made Idaho Falls, Idaho Falls is right here in these streets. It's who we are and we are connected to these building because of our heritage and our history," said Catherine Smith with Idaho Falls Downtown Development.

Smith said these new developments have been years in the making. In recent years, the Rogers building has been home to some small businesses, but investors have bigger plans to combat the housing shortage across the city.

"Plans here… I would really like to see a live here, work here, and be able to go out and dine and play and take advantage of what our downtown has to offer. There are so many wonderful things here. It's really its own little unique neighborhood," Jayce said.

"It has been a long road though, and a learning curve compared to little houses that are 2,000 to 3,000 square feet," Tawni said.

One of the newest additions to the historic space are the one to two bedroom lofts on the third floor, but the offices on the second floor will remain with plans to modernize each space. Developers are working through plans for new businesses on the first floor, such as a new salon and possibly a restaurant.

The Howells say there are several other buildings they are working to revitalize; they include:

  • The Oddfellows building - built in 1908, which started Jayce’s investments downtown.
  • Ferrell’s - the locally owned men’s dress clothing store that relocated after almost 70 years downtown.
  • karen's Park Avenue Club - a bar and lounge that recently closed in 2019 after the owner retired.

Jayce said the plan for these buildings involve more housing, restaurants and live entertainment. But while the idea is to bring modern living to downtown, a lot of the charm will remain. This is one the more delicate parts of this undertaking. General contractors say they are working to preserve these building's historical details, such as the original brick and masonry - with hundreds of man hours going into these upgrades.

"These buildings have been here for one hundred years right? How about a hundred more? I just want them to be everything they can be," he said.

Article Topic Follows: Growing East Idaho

Bre Clark

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