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Housing development in the works off Sunnyside Road in Idaho Falls

Idaho Falls

CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story said the townhomes would be priced between $120,000 and $130,000. The developer has since explained the price will be between $120,000 and $130,000 less than a single family starter home. We’ve adjusted the wording and apologize for the confusion.

IDAHO FALLS – A development project is in the works at the site of two abandoned buildings in Idaho Falls.

The building formerly occupied by The Monarch Daycare at 810 East Sunnyside Road has been sitting vacant for about eight months. The outside is covered in graffiti and many people feel it’s an eyesore in the community. Another building next door to the west, which was being used as storage space for an electrician business, is unoccupied as well.

Demolition on the two buildings got underway Thursday morning to make room for condos and townhomes at that location. Concordia Development Group in Idaho Falls purchased the property about a year ago and Eagle Rock Engineering is designing the project.

Concordia Development Group Owner Brandt Monette tells construction on 136 housing units is slated to begin sometime in the next four weeks. There will be 40 townhomes and 96 condominiums and each unit will be between 1,100 and 1,400-square feet.

“The townhomes are quite a bit nicer. Our townhomes are 1,807-square-feet. They are a range of 3-bedroom and 2 and a half bath product with a loft and then some have no loft and a fourth bedroom,” Monette says. “We’re building that exact same floor plan behind Deseret Industries in Ammon.”

Monette estimates the project will take up to three years to complete.

sunnyside demolition
Demolition crews starting removing trees and other debris around The Monarch Daycare building on Thursday. | Kalama Hines,

An influx of people to the area in recent years has created an increased demand for housing. Idaho Falls, in particular, has seen an increase of more than 8,000 people from April 2010 to April 2020, according to the U.S. Census.

Monette says one of the appeals of this project is to be able to accommodate a housing shortage created by the increase in population.

“Based on our studies, there are over 2,000 homes currently needed in the market,” says Monette. “In Bonneville County alone, if you look at the number of building permits we’re pulling, we don’t have the contractor trade base to ever (meet that demand) so we’re going to be in a critical housing shortage for years to come.”

Each unit will be available for sale upon completion and Monette is aiming to price it between $120,000 and $130,000 less than a single family starter home. Monette says the idea is to make it affordable amid rising home costs.

The 6.7-acre lot’s close proximity to city amenities makes it a good fit for a housing development, Monette says.

“The location is close to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, close to all of the retail shopping off of Hitt Road and it’s positioned exceptionally well in terms of how Sunnyside has been planned for quick access to both sides of town and to Ammon, to be able to get to the freeway,” he explains.

Monette also says it’s close to some of the nicer schools and he’s hoping to attract families “in a variety of income brackets” so their kids can attend school there and live in an affluent neighborhood.

sunnyside development rendering
A rendering of what the townhomes could like. | Brandt Monette

A long history with fond memories for many

George and Janiss Balmforth were the original owners of The Monarch building. They opened it as a wedding and reception center sometime in the 1960s under the name The Willows.

Linda Halter bought it from them in 1998 and continued to operate it as a wedding venue before selling it to Laura Gray in the early 2000s.

“We changed the name to The Monarch when we got it,” Gray says. “We kept it as a wedding venue for the first eight years and then turned it into a daycare.”

It operated as a daycare until last August when Gray sold it to Concordia Development.

Gray says there are a lot of fond memories attached to that building for so many people over the years. She recalls her brother and one of her children getting married there before she owned it.

After sitting vacant for so long, she’s happy to see somebody doing something with it.

“I think it’s going to be great when they get it done. I hate what’s happening right at the moment with the building sitting the way it is. It’s been trashed and people have gone in and taken things out of it and just destroyed it. The graffiti all over it is driving me crazy,” says Gray.

Monette says the housing development is going to be a beautiful project for the city and he’s excited to see it move forward.

“We’re just really excited. It’ll be one of the first condominium projects in the city of Idaho Falls (in) nearly 40 years,” he says. “The biggest stress on this market is the (dramatic rise in rent and home prices). It’s challenging to those who have lived here forever (who are) entering the homebuyer’s market and can’t afford to live here. This project will provide such a wide range in that more affordable bracket for people to be able to step into home ownership.”

The city council approved the project proposal during its meeting on March 31. The developers are finalizing the platting process, which Assistant City Planner Kerry Beutler says will be presented to city officials in May or June.

the willows
A photo of The Willows wedding and reception center provided by Linda Halter.

graffiti on houses sunnyside road
The vacant buildings on the 6.7-acre lot had been trashed and covered with graffiti during the time they sat vacant. A demolition of the buildings is now underway. | Rett Nelson,

Design concept for townhome and condo development | Brandt Monette

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