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Rexburg man hoping to build housing development in Idaho Falls neighborhood

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CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story said it was an affordable housing development. The term “affordable” was intended to explain the designer’s idea that it was at a low market cost and not low-income housing. After further explanation from the designer, we have since learned that the project will be based on current market prices. We apologize for the confusion.

IDAHO FALLS — A 2.75-acre parcel of land along Woodruff Avenue in Idaho Falls could soon be the site of an affordable housing development.

For several years, Rexburg native Josh Ruby has been working to build a master-planned community that bypasses the traditional home-buying route.

His original proposal included 12 1,300-square-foot houses on a 2-acre parcel inside Sugar City’s Old Farm Estates subdivision with an option to add amenities, such as an indoor pickleball court, woodshop, gym, guest rooms and a swimming pool/spa/sauna.

The idea was to create a sense of community and a cost savings for the homeowner by allowing them to invest in the project and design and build the homes themselves rather than hire a third party.

RELATED | Man looks to create community of affordable homes in Sugar City

The project was in the initial stages in April 2020 but it never seemed to gain momentum.

Recently, Ruby identified a piece of land directly behind Winco that he feels would be a perfect fit for a modified version of his idea.

In a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com, he explained several reasons why the property is ideal for his project.

“It is bordering some open space that will never be developed because it’s owned by a utility company, so we’ll always have a football field of space next to us … to add some green space,” Ruby says.

He also likes that the city’s walking path goes right past the property and that it’s in an awkward location.

“It reduces the value of the land,” he says. “If it were in a more prominent location that was more suitable for a commercial building or (a traditional) residential development, it probably would have already been done.”

ruby rendering 2
An artistic rendering of one of Ruby’s homes. | Josh Ruby

The new model includes a total of 15 different homes with varying sizes, including three small houses at 360-square-feet, six homes at 1,300-square-feet, two at 1,500-square-feet, two at 2,000-square-feet and two homes at 2,600-square-feet.

The housing project would also include storage rooms and a community building with all the amenities in the first proposal.

“I’ll design the spec plan, and then pre-sell it (before it’s built),” Ruby explains.

Ruby is meeting with investors to determine a market price for his housing development. While he was originally hoping to offer them at a much lower rate, he says the cost will now be based on current market prices.

Though Ruby has been in negotiation with the landowner to purchase the property, it has never been listed for sale. He says it’s not likely to be sold to anyone else, which gives him more time to work on his design.

It’s also owned by the county and will have to be annexed into the city before Ruby can do anything with it.

Ruby is working to finalize his digital renderings of the project so that he can present his proposal to the public and get some feedback from the community. He’s tentatively planning a presentation sometime in February.

He’d like to break ground on the project this spring, depending on the number of investors and the amount of interest from the public. Visit Ruby’s website to learn more. You can also reach out to him via email at jlrubybusiness@gmail.com.

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