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Redevelopment agency to purchase two downtown properties

The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency has voted to purchase a half-block of vacant property at the intersection of Broadway and Memorial. The property is the former site of Savings Center and the Melaleuca retail store.

The board also approved the purchase of an option to purchase the Bonneville Hotel property in downtown Idaho Falls.

The former Savings Center property is owned by the Vern Kelsch family. According to a news release, the Redevelopment Agency plans to offer the site to potential developers as a prime location for a multi-story property offering commercial and residential units.

The Bonneville Hotel property will also be offered to potential developers for redevelopment, including housing on upper floors and office or retail uses on the first floor.

The hotel was originally built as a hotel and convention center and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Potential developers could be assisted by historic preservation tax credits and low income housing tax credits available from other sources.

The agency will determine whether to exercise its two-year purchase option base on whether developers come forward to take on the project.

According to Agency Chair Lee Radford, “These projects are designed to further revitalize the core of Idaho Falls, by inviting strong developers to invest in buildings that will bring people to our historic and beautiful downtown. The hope is that these projects will help grow downtown Idaho Falls so that it can continue as an attraction for future generations.”

The agency’s decision in both cases, was based on a study analyzing demand for downtown housing. That analysis estimated demand for housing units would range from 455 to 502 units.

The group also determined that downtown revitalization is normally advanced only through the proactive efforts of private and public groups.

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