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New event center invigorating downtown Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS — The DEC isn’t just a catchy acronym with a dual meaning, it’s a new venue bringing energy to the nightlife in Idaho Falls.

The DEC, or Downtown Event Center, opened at the beginning of the year, and owners say the location has been an ideal spot for business.

“I think it’s a prime location for an event center with all the development that’s going on and all the renovation that’s being done to some of the older buildings,” Director Chase Martin says. “I think for the community this was the perfect spot for us to set up.”

Before The DEC opened up its doors, owner Jake Durtschi says the 480 Park Avenue spot hasn’t been occupied for the last 20 years.

“It used to be kind of a mall. There was a hallway through (here) and there were little clothes shops, a yummy sandwich shop,” Durtschi says.

Durtschi says after they purchased the building some two years ago they tried to lease it at first. He says many people came up with good ideas for the space, including an event center.

“We kept trying to lease it and no one wanted to lease it and so finally we said well this space is not being used, we want to make it useful… and so that’s how it started,” Durtschi says.

The interior of The DEC. | Natalia Hepworth,

In October 2017 owners began renovation which was backbreaking work.

“It had been built on top of several times,” Durtschi says.

Durtschi says there were three ceilings that had to be removed and walls that had to be knocked down.

Motioning to another nearby wall Durtschi says, “This was all drywall and it looked like an eight-foot ceiling because it had hanging ceilings…There were other ceilings on top of it.”

He says getting the building to the point where it could be remodeled was extensive. He says similar roadblocks are happening with other buildings downtown because of the retro infrastructure.

After a year and a half of work, The DEC was open to the public this January. The building is 5,000 square feet and accommodates up to 325 people.

Martin says the venue has versatility as far as set up. True to its name the front glass windows of The Dec can be pulled open giving visitors the feeling of being on a deck.

“We also eventually want to do some rooftop seating– we have to work out some building code issues, but that would also feel a lot like a deck,” Durtschi says.

The DEC’s roof top. | Natalia Hepworth,

As for the inside of the venue, the hardwood, and exposed framework gives Idahoans a sense of home.

“We kind of have this rustic feel going on. We’ve got a lot of the Edison light bulbs going on we’ve got the hardwood floors, a lot of the pipes exposed,” Martin says. “We’ve got more of that rustic industrial feel, and I think that that’s kind of what southeast Idaho is about, that hometown feel, the farmer the blue collar worker, I think that the space really encapsulates what southeast Idaho is like.”

Martin says locals can book the spot for an event at any time, or they can come down the first Thursday of every month for its comedy night. Learn more about the DEC here.

“They’re a blast we’re hoping to kind of keep that going, maybe sprinkle in a few bigger names here and there. We want to bring in as many weddings as possible,” Martin says. “We’re new, we have a beautiful space so we’ve got a lot more versatility as far as set up, we’re really easy going, we’re really trying to help our customers.”