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95-year-old building in downtown Idaho Falls is getting a facelift and has new owners

Business & Money

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IDAHO FALLS – A historic building in downtown Idaho Falls is under new ownership.

Charles Faber, the owner of Front Row Events and Production Management, purchased the 35,000-square-foot building formerly occupied by Harris Publishing at 360 B Street in late October. He tells EastIdahoNews.com he’s planning to turn a portion of it into apartment housing or an Airbnb.

“On the second and third floor, we’re taking two of the old hotel rooms and turning them into one. On the top floor, we’re cutting one room in half and making two penthouse suites,” Faber says.

There are lots of ideas he’s kicking around for the rest of the building, none of which have been finalized.

He’s moving forward with the housing project, which he hopes to have completed before the end of the year. But he wants input from the community on whether it should be permanent or temporary housing.

“It seems like permanent housing is really hard to find at the moment because of the Rogers Hotel (next door) filling up pretty quickly. I don’t know what people are looking for,” says Faber.

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The building dates back to 1926 and was originally the home of The Virginia Hotel, according to Museum of Idaho Curator Carrie Anderson Athay. It’s unknown who the owner was at the time but Blanche C. Hayes was the proprietor. Around 1939, it moved to 475 Broadway.

The B Street building sat vacant for most of the 1940s before Idaho Falls Hardware took it over in the 50s.

Pat Johnson Butikofer from Rigby says her parents, Fauntella and Vern Johnson, worked inside a clothing store on the main level of the building during the 40s. It was called The Frock and Bonnet Shop. She says it was owned by Beth and Guy Poulson and they sold shoes, hats and “ready-to-wear clothing.”

It became an annex for the Bon Marche in the 1970s after it was empty for nearly a decade.

It was a water bed retailer for several years before makeup and cosmetic supplier Beauty for All Seasons opened sometime in the 1980s. Norma Ball Virgin Galazin, who is a sister to Ball Ventures founder Allen Ball, was the owner of the makeup shop, according to her daughter, Amy Allen. Harris Publishing Owner Jason Harris says the makeup business operated in that location for about 20 years before the Harris family purchased it in 2000.

Harris Publishing, which publishes several magazines such as Idaho Falls Magazine, Potato Grower and Sugar Producer, moved into the adjacent building at 520 Park Avenue in October after moving its commercial printing shop, Falls Printing, from that location to the old liquor store at 190 1st Street.

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“Once we bought the liquor store, we ended up with too much space … and needed to sell something and so we chose to sell the 360 B Street (property),” Harris says.

Demolition on the interior of the Harris building is complete. Faber anticipates the construction process getting underway in the next few weeks.

If you’d like to offer input on the project, send an email to chuck@virginiagrand.com.

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