Friday, January 29, 2016

New apartments going into old Montgomery Ward building

The scene this week in the unit on the building's southwest corner.
Mike Allen
The residential side of downtown Idaho Falls is getting a big boost with the development of loft apartments at 504 Shoup Avenue, upstairs from Happy’s, in the old Montgomery Ward building.

Doing business as Camp Bench Holdings, Mike Allen and Neil Campbell have lined up tenants for five of the seven lofts and suites they are setting up on the second floor. Sizes range from 800 to 1,700 square feet, and rents start at $800.

Allen said they were looking in 2015 for a property to develop into lofts and learned the Montgomery Ward building was for sale. Built in the Renaissance style, with its high ceilings, birch hardwood floors and leaded glass, it was exactly what they were looking for, he said.

As might be expected with a building from 1929, there were some issues. They had to replace the window sashes, as the original wood was too far gone. But there were pluses as well, first and foremost a working sprinkler system. “That was one of the nice things about this building,” Allen said.

One unit is already occupied. Sandy Crowley, who has moved to Idaho Falls from Salt Lake with her husband, Jim, to open a gallery on A Street across from Great Harvest Bread, said they were keen to find something with character for themselves and their two kids. She was walking up Shoup Avenue when she saw the 504Shoup.com sign in the window, made a call and made a deal. “These are great spaces,” she said.

Krisi Staten, executive director of the Downtown Development Corp., said she sees 504Shoup as a harbinger of things to come.

“I think there is more demand for downtown residential than anyone ever realized,” she said. “What Mike’s done, they’re beautiful the way they combine the new with traditional elements. I think wha this says is there is a real desire for beautiful places to live downtown.”

Other developers have paid notice, she added. “The success he’s had, filling up those condos without even advertising, I think it has caused a lot of other people to take another look. This proves the market it there, and I think were going to see more of this.”