New apartments sprout all over Rexburg

Teya Vitu//September 6, 2018

New apartments sprout all over Rexburg

Teya Vitu//September 6, 2018

Cedar Heights is a new project in Rexburg that mixes student housing, retail and a NAVEX Gllobal call center. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Drive around Rexburg and it only takes a few seconds to come upon another apartment construction project.

In a city with a 2017 population of 28,377, Rexburg since 2013 has seen construction starts for 30 apartment complexes with 2,020 units in 176 buildings. The bumper crop year so far was 2017,  with seven projects adding up to 849 units, according to statistics provided by the city of Rexburg.

“It appears with apartments Rexburg is leading the state as a percentage of the population,” said Wayne Hammon, executive director of Idaho Associated General Contractors, the trade organization for the commercial construction industry. “They are built to address the university. I have to tell you moving the college from two-year to four-year is an incredible boost for the whole economy of that whole valley.”

Brigham Young University-Idaho has added about 500 students a year since 2013. It added 1,400 in 2016 to 2017 to reach about 20,000 for the fall semester starting Sept. 17. BYU-Idaho had only 9,200 students when it made the transition from the two-year Ricks College in 2001, university spokesman Brett Crandall said.

Apartments in Rexburg are built for single students and married students, the general population and also the senior community.

Rexburg has more than a dozen apartment project under construction. Photo by Teya Vitu.

“The growth of the university” was the concise summation of Rexburg’s apartment boom from Scott Johnson, the city’s economic development director.

One new student housing project includes an international business and street-level retail. The four-story Cedar Heights at Hemming Village has 75 units for unmarried students and 60 units for married students on the upper two levels.

The retail offerings on street level include Righteous Slice Pizza, Five Guys Burger, BiomatPlasma, Idaho Central Credit Union and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

The second level is a new call center for Portland-based NAVEX Gllobal, an ethics and compliance software and services company that has other call centers in Charlotte, North Carolina; Norcross, Georgia, and Lisbon, Portugal.

BYU-Idaho students are the primary employee pool for NAVEX, Johnson said.

“A lot of the students have served foreign missions,” Johnson said. “Because of this, we have a lot of foreign language skills. For us, NAVEX gives us some recognition. It puts us on the map for other companies to look at us.”

Student housing

A 580-bed student housing complex is in early construction phases just west of Brigham Young University-Idaho. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Just west of Cedar Heights, Brad Hall is building a 580-bed unmarried student housing complex in three four-story structures. Construction started in April with a planned August 2019 opening.

The placeholder name for Hall’s $25 million project, which will be changed, is Arbor Cove. This was the name of the prior student housing facilities on the site, which Hall demolished. That housing had 180 beds in an apartment building and six homes that he estimated were 50 to 70 years old.

“I went to school in the early 1970s at Ricks College,” Hall said. “It was there then. What you are seeing (with several Rexburg apartment projects) is some of the old homes, 50, 60, 70 years old, being torn down.”

Arbor Cove is the first student housing Hall is building, but in 2017 he bought the Mountain Lofts and renamed them The Lodge, which at 1,072 beds is the largest student housing facility in Rexburg, he said.

Hall said a lot of the apartment construction in Rexburg is for married students. Apartment construction may seem rampant in Rexburg, but Hall said projects are closely monitored.

“We have to get approval from BYU-Idaho administration to build this,” he said of Arbor Cove.

The apartment building boom likely will wane, said Travis Lofhouse, estimator at Kartchner Commercial Builders, a division of Kartchner Homes, a Logan, Utah-based homebuilder with large projects in Rexburg and Idaho Falls.

“With all the construction you are seeing, it will become saturated in the near future,” Lofthouse said. “We’ll catch up with the demand in the next two years, I would say.”

Kartchner started construction in November on the 481-unit Eden Apartments, the largest Rexburg apartment project in more than five years. The Eden targets married students and is planned for completion in March, Lofthouse said.

The Eden has 13 three-story structures with 228 one-bedroom units ranging from 550 square feet to 676 square feet  and 253 two-bedroom unit ranging from 915 square feet to 991 square feet.

“A lot of our tenants are married students,” Lofthouse said. “(BYU-Idaho is) getting more and more students all the time.

Apartments for seniors    

The Cottages at The Homestead in Rexburg will offer 41 units for independent senior living. Photo by Teya Vitu.

At the opposite end of the age spectrum from college, developer David Thueson has been focusing on the 55-years-plus community since 2005. He has filled nearly a full city block with an assortment of assisted living, independent living, hospice, and skilled nursing at The Homestead Assisted Living at Main Street and North Fifth Avenue West.

“We have eight buildings,” Thueson said. “We’re trying to do something for everyone. We’re at 100 percent occupancy for everything open.”

Thueson in June started construction on the second phase of The Cottages at The Homestead. These 28 independent living units in fourplexes add to the 13 he opened 1½ years ago. They were his first independent living at The Homestead.

He describes The Cottages as high-end with granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and one-car garages.

“We deliver to The Cottages three meals a day,” Thueson said.

Southfork Design Group of Rexburg is the architect. Mountain Valley Construction of Rexburg and Headwaters Construction of Victor are the general contractors. He expects the second phase to open in January.

The 41-unit The Cottages join the four assisted living structures Thueson built in 2005 with 30 units in two buildings, in 2008 with 45 units and 2017 with 52 units. Across Main Street, he is also partners with Madison County Memorial Hospital at Madison Carriage Cove, a short-stay rehabilitation center.

“For us, a lot of the people that move here want to get out of California,” Thueson said. “A lot of people are from Oregon, California and Arizona. We are about half the cost.”