Friday, October 21, 2011

New developments for downtown Idaho Falls

Idahoan Foods' new headquarters, on Constitution Way, should be finished by mid- to late-November.

Compared to a lot of American cities, Idaho Falls downtown district is looking pretty good.

With the recent additions of 3's Co. Catering and Il Castello and the expansion of Pachanga's, there is a growing variety of places to eat and drink. Two corporations -- Syringa Wireless and Idahoan Foods -- have located or are in the process of locating downtown.

"It's one building and one facade at a time" said Bob Everhart, executive director of the Downtown Development Corp.

DDC is the organization charged with finding new tenants for empty buildings, not to mention helping the owners make their buildings presentable. It is supported by tax money from a business improvement district, and any time there's money involved there's a big possibility that someone will feel left out or shortchanged.

But Everhart said he wants to help find grant money for anyone who wants to improve their property, and pointed to the new facade and sign on Karen's Park Avenue Club as an example of what can be done on a small scale to get big results.

The development of Idahoan's world headquarters, on Constitution Way, has gone slower than expected because of the excavation for underground parking, but Everhart said it is due to be finished by Thanksgiving. When it is, there will be 70 to 75 people commuting downtown five days a week.

A few things can be expected in the next six months. State Rep. Janice McGeachin is converting the old Hub Bar, at the corner of Broadway and Park, into an Irish pub, eyeing an opening in spring 2012. Everhart said he is negotiating with a local resident who hopes to open an old-fashioned bookstore in the space on Broadway next to Dave's Bike Shop.

A few big spaces remain to be filled: the ground floor at the southwest corner of Park and B and the old Inkley's building at Park and A, which has been vacant for a few years. Everhart said he would like to see the old Saving Center property put to some sort of use, but recognizes its size presents challenges with the economy the way it is.