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Bonneville Hotel project receives massive boost in funding

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Governor Brad Little tours the Bonneville Apartments construction site. | Courtesy Optum

IDAHO FALLS — A company just invested millions of dollars into the downtown Idaho Falls Bonneville Hotel transformation project.

Optum announced Wednesday that it’s contributing $8.8 million into the $11.4 million project to transform the old Bonneville Hotel into affordable housing.

“Optum is excited to announce that we are the largest investor of the renovation of this beautiful historic building that is being turned into the Bonneville Apartments,” Optum Idaho Executive Director Georganne Benjamin said.

Optum is the company that manages and administers mental health resources provided through Medicaid in Idaho.

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“We’ve invested over $400 million in 80 different communities to help build affordable housing,” Benjamin said. “We know, through the work that we do and through the people that we serve, every day we see people that struggle with basics. And affordable housing being key to one of those basics.”

Idaho Governor Brad Little visited the Bonneville Hotel for the announcement of Optum’s investment and toured the construction site.

“Historical preservation is important,” Little said. “The additive value of taking an existing building and creating something very functional, yet, preserving that history is very important.

Once complete, the Bonneville Apartments will provide 35, one, two and three-bedroom apartments with retail space on the bottom floor.

“It’s an exciting time for the community because it will bring back residents to downtown in large number,” Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper said. “When you have people living downtown around the clock, rather than just coming for work hours or restaurant hours, you end up with a different dynamic and your downtown starts to have a new life to it.”

Casper said Optum’s investment gets the city to their funding goal for the project.

Additional funding includes $2 million from The Housing Company and a $565,000 permanent loan from the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho.

The Idaho Falls Redevelopment Agency supported the project by purchasing the Bonneville Hotel for $1.3 million.

“We’re taking a piece of history and turning it into a piece of the future,” Casper said.

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