In Idaho and nationwide, women are building a future in construction

While there is an increased representation of women in construction, wage gaps have yet to catch up. (Photo provided)

Increasingly, women are entering the once male-dominated construction field, especially in Idaho, a trend that is likely to influence the industry for years to come.

A new study by Today’s Homeowner found that of all 50 states, Idaho ranks No. 6 for the highest percentage of female construction workers, which is 4.2% of the industry. 

“Even though it’s a small percentage of the industry, it is still significantly larger than some of our smaller percentage states at less than 1 percent,” Caroline Jones with Today’s Homeowner said. “The fact that Idaho has this percentage of women in construction is an amazing statistic, and we’re seeing consistent growth from there.”

Women more represented in managerial construction roles 

Photo provided by Penny Davis, Layton Construction Company.

While there is an increased representation of women in construction, wage gaps have yet to catch up. The study also found that while the wage gap for female construction managers has improved, it has worsened for construction trade workers in recent years.

“We are seeing some narrowing pay gaps here, which is great to see for female construction managers,” Jones added.

According to data from Boise State University, there are currently 350 students enrolled in the program, and 14% are women, with many of them drawn toward managerial roles in construction, relative to trade roles. 

Anthony Perrenoud, chair and associate professor at the Department of Construction Management, conducted a national study to assess gender-related attraction and retention factors in the industry. 

“With our students there, they are driven towards project management. Working in the field, however, that’s something that I think every industry is trying to improve,” Perrenoud said. “Companies here in Idaho are really looking at ways in which they can improve their cultures, and improve the worksite so that women are more interested and attracted to the industry.”

Tamara Thompson, principal and director of client services at The Land Group, was the 5th woman to graduate from Boise State’s construction management program in December of 1992. 

“When I was going through school there was this expectation that construction is just for the guys, and it’s not a place for the girls–and I think we’ve shown there’s quite a few of us,” Thompson said. “It’s very hands-on and it’s rewarding because there’s something tangible at the end of the day, that hopefully is there for 100 plus years. And it’s not just pushing paper, there’s an end product.”

At Thompson’s company, a third of its employees are women, who fill a range of positions from civil engineering to land surveying.

Women in Construction Week (WIC Week) 

The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), is an organization that offers its members education, support and networking to help advance their careers in construction. NAWIC held their annual WIC Week on March 5-11 to celebrate and promote the role of women in the industry.

Photo provided by Ami Ostrow, Andersen Construction Company.

Ami Ostrow, project manager at Andersen Construction Company and member of NAWIC, planned a variety of events with the local chapter for WIC Week. This included a jobsite tour of the Boardwalk development, a reading class, mix and mingle event, and an annual dinner auction to commemorate the week.

“If people are interested in getting involved in construction, or just considering it, NAWIC is a great opportunity to meet people and talk to people. Our first meetings for guests are free,” Ostrow said. “ It’s just a great career field. There’s so many different avenues and different trades to go into and it’s just unlimited what you can do. The possibilities are endless.”

Idaho Power to rebuild aging transmission line

Boise Foothills transmission line.

Idaho Power plans to rebuild a 75-year-old transmission line that runs between Boise to Emmett.

Estimated to cost $17 million, the utility says the project will increase reliability and resiliency and allow more energy to flow between the two cities.

“We felt like it would be more cost-effective to rebuild the entire line, to upgrade it to a modern design standard. The big thing is resiliency, and a line that will be able to stand better and in such a way that is less likely to to cause any issues,” Jeff Maffuccio, facility siting coordinator at Idaho Power, said.

The 138-kilovolt transmission line begins just north of the Boise River and stretches about 35 miles across the Boise Foothills, ending near East Main Street in Emmett.

Idaho Power is working directly with landowners along the line to minimize any construction-related disruptions. The utility company also hosted a series of public open house meetings in 2022 to introduce the project and address any concerns.

“We’re really focused on minimizing the impact to our customers and working with them ahead of time,” Maffuccio said. “We have professional construction crews who know how to manage these situations, and we want to be careful in how we affect our neighbors, our customers and still be able to operate our system safely.”

Construction on the transmission line is slated to begin next year. The upgraded transmission line is expected to be in service by the end of 2025.  

2021 Top Projects award finalists announced

Top Projects publication and awards for 2021 are announced

While the construction industry has certainly had some challenges this past year – fighting insane increases in commodity prices, battling dwindling inventory in supply chains, and having to innovate on the fly to comply with COVID-19 social distancing requirements – somewhat amazingly, projects were still completed as scheduled.

The Idaho Business Review is pleased to recognize many of these outstanding projects as finalists for the 2021 Top Projects award program, now in its 17th year.

To be considered for an award, the project must have been built in Idaho  substantially completed between June 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021 — and valued at more than $1 million in construction costs.

To determine the top winners, a selection committee of local industry experts will judge the finalists across four categories:

  • Infrastructure/Utility/Transportation
  • Private
  • Public
  • Renovation

The selection committee will rate each project based on the criteria of: scope of work, overcoming challenges and obstacles, adherence to budget and time constraints and overall project quality.

The top three projects in each category will be announced during a special awards event in October, and the highest-scoring project overall will be named Project of the Year. Last year, the 2020 Project of the Year was Boise State University Center for the Visual Arts.

New last year, Idaho Business Review began an annual recognition of a Subcontractor of the Year honoree, which will also be announced during the awards event. Last year’s Subcontractor of the Year was Treasure Valley-based YMC.

And for the fifth consecutive year, each project will also be eligible for a People’s Choice Award, chosen by event attendees who each select their personal favorite project. This award is open to any project submitted to the Top Projects contest. Voters are asked to select one project for each of the four categories (infrastructure/utility/transportation, private, public and renovation.)

The 2021 Idaho Top Projects awards event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Galaxy Event Center in Meridian.  Online ticket sales  have opened at squadup.com/events/2021-top-projects.



2021 Idaho Top Projects finalists


  • Digital AirGround Integration Range (DAGIR)
  • I-84 Blacks Creek Road Interchange
  • Kathryn Albertson Park
  • Kuna Downtown Revitalization – Main Street, Ave C to Ave A
  • Multipurpose Range Complex Repair
  • Old Valley Lift Station
  • Park Street and Veteran’s Alley Surface Improvements
  • The Centre at Rainey Creek

Private building

  • 11th & Idaho Office Building
  • AceCo Precision Manufacturing
  • Bri at The Village
  • Crave Kitchen and Bar
  • Grace Assisted Living Chubbuck
  • Habitat Veterinary Hospital
  • Holiday Inn & Suites, Jackson Hole Junction
  • Home2 Suites and Front Street Garage
  • Homewood Suites
  • Hope Plaza Phase II
  • Life’s Kitchen
  • RockHarbor Church Phase I
  • Rosewood Apartments
  • Swan Valley Community Center Marketplace
  • Swan Valley General Store
  • Swire Coca-Cola Fruitland Expansion
  • The Advanced Test Reactor Security Building
  • The Clara
  • The Knolls Office Building

Public building

  • Lewiston High School & Career Technical Education Facility
  • Mary McPherson Elementary Addition
  • Micron Center for Materials Sciences at Boise State University
  • Mountain View Elementary School
  • Pierce Park Elementary School
  • Pleasant View Elementary School
  • State Hospital South – Secured Skilled Nursing Facility
  • State Hospital West
  • Swan Falls High School


  • Blue Cross of Idaho
  • Camp Rainbow Gold’s Hidden Paradise
  • ESPAA (Opera Idaho)
  • Idaho Foodbank
  • Idaho Foodbank – Meridian
  • Idaho State University Davis Field Renovation
  • WaFd Bank


The 2021 Idaho Top Projects Selection Committee

  • Shauna Corry, dean of the College of Art and Architecture at the University of Idaho
  • Bruce Haglund, architecture professor at the University of Idaho
  • Suzie Hall, founder and president of The Cornerstone Collective
  • Wayne Hammon, CEO of Idaho Associated General Contractors
  • Jana Knoll, association executive director at BOMA
  • Anthony Perrenoud, associate professor of construction management at Boise State University
  • Matt Stoll, executive director of the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS)
  • Sheree Willhite, senior engineer at Idaho Power and member of the BOMA board of directors
  • Charlie Woodruff, regional director, U.S. Green Building Council




Pocatello is on the verge of major Northgate home, tech, retail, office project

Looking south with Pocatello in the distance and Chubbuck to the right. The Northgate development would be about 1 mile north of the Interstate 15 and Interstate 86 interchange. Image courtesy of Millennial Development Partners.

Before you can build, you need a road.

Olympus Drive now reaches north into the ambitious Northgate development that proposes as many as 10,000 new homes and a 1-million-square-foot technology park along with an array of retail and office opportunities for the north edge of Pocatello and east edge of Chubbuck.

Northgate is an unprecedented public-private partnership in Idaho involving Millennial Development Partners, the project leader, and Portneuf Development on the private side and the cities of Pocatello and Chubbuck, Bannock County and the Idaho Transportation Department on the public side.

Millennial Development built the 1-mile extension that takes Olympus north to a new traffic circle and continues west as Northgate Parkway to Interstate 15. These initial roads were built with $3.4 million from Millennial and Portneuf, $2 million from Pocatello Development Authority, $450,000 cash and $50,000 in-kind from Pocatello and $1.3 million from Bannock County.

ITD expects to start construction at the start of November on a new Northgate freeway interchange that will take Northgate Parkway across the freeway to Chubbuck, which is extending Siphon Road to the new interchange.

The freeway interchange should be completed by the end of summer 2019, said Buck Swaney, founder and managing principal at Millennial Development Partners and the visionary behind Northgate.

The road construction also involved underground installation of electrical, sewer, water, fiber and gas for the total development of the ultimate 4,500-acre project.

“This is about circulation for the whole region,” Swaney said. “It just so happens it gives up access to the Northgate project.”

Northgate Parkway next year will be extended east from the traffic circle to enable construction of the first phase of Northgate’s initial housing development, a still-to-be-determined number of homes on about 50 or 60 acres. The developer will be Portneuf Development, which has 150 acres in the immediate area.

Swaney is lining up development partners for the first 15 to 20 acres of his 60-acre lifestyle center/outdoor mall that he is calling The District.

“We are working hard on some dining concepts,” Swaney said. “We are working very hard on a grocery store. We are working very hard on a hotel.”

In 2019, Swaney also wants to build a three- or four-level, 18,000- to 20,000-square-foot mixed-use building with ground floor retail at The District.

“That is all the things we are working on marketing in the coming year,” Swaney said.

Federal loan leads to new fire station in Osburn

A new four-bay fire station will be built in Osburn in north Idaho. Image courtesy of Shoshone Fire Protection District No. 1.

Shoshone Fire Protection District No. 1 will build a new headquarters fire station in Osburn with a $1.9 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Osburn is 43 miles east of Coeur d’Alene on Interstate 90.

The firefighters serving the north Idaho cities of Osburn, Silverton and Wallace currently reside in a late-1950s/early-1960s fire station where the sleeping quarters double as the kitchen and living room with Murphy beds folding up into the walls, Fire Chief Aaron Cagle said.

“We are now sleeping right next to the engine bay,” said Cagle, adding that the bedroom/kitchen/living room door opens right into the engine bay.

The new 10,000-square-foot fire station will have four bedrooms, a separate kitchen and living areas. There will also be a community room with capacity for 25 people that will double as an emergency operation center.

“It going to make such a big deal to have separate living quarters,” Cagle said.

USDA also awarded a $25,000 grant to District No. 1 to cover permitting costs, he said.

The new fire station comes in response to the fire district in 2013 taking over ambulance services from a private operator. Before, District No. 1 was a volunteer department with one paid firefighter.

The district now has seven paid fire/emergency medical technicians and 25 volunteers with two professionals assigned to each of the three shifts, Cagle said.

The new fire station, with a four-bay double garage, has the capacity for eight engines, trucks and tenders. This contrasts with the single-engine capacity at the current Osburn station.

“Now we have several unmanned stations, where our trucks sit and wait until we need them,” Cagle said. “We will be able to house all of our apparatus in one place.”

Voters in November 2017 approved a 30-year, $1.9 million bond for a new fire station. The USDA loan lowers the cost of the bond, as the district will not have to shop for funding on the open market, Cagle said.

“This will be the first building the district has owned,” Cagle said. “We’ve been renting buildings since the 1920s.”

Shoshone Fire Protection District No. 1 covers an area of 65 square miles, larger than San Francisco. The district serves about 5,500 residents, just under half of Shoshone County’s population.

District No. 1 was one of 88 projects in 27 states funded with $181 million in USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan Program funding. One other Idaho recipient was the Wendell Senior Center in the Magic Valley, which received a $9,800 loan and a $5,200 grant to complete the funding for a new roof. The senior center had already invested $60,966 and received a $59,000 Rural Development  Community Facilities loan, a $30,000 USDA Community Facilities grant, and $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding.

Salvation Army sells Booth Marian Pritchett School property

The Salvation Army has sold its Booth Marian Pritchett School property. Photo courtesy of the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army’s sale of its 1928 Booth Marian Pritchett School property on the North End closed on Sept. 28 for $2 million after a prolonged approval process, the Salvation Army reported.

Even under new ownership, the Salvation Army’s School for Pregnant and Parenting Teens will remain at the historic location until the new school under construction on Emerald Street is completed, scheduled for the fall 2019 school year, said Major Robert Lloyd, the Salvation Army Boise Corps officer.

“We’re staying right where we are until the new building is ready,” Lloyd said.

The sale had been initially reported in May, but Lloyd said that was a premature announcement as the local Salvation Army still needed approval from the Salvation Army Western Territory in Portland and Salvation Army corporate office.

The buyers are a partnership that includes Ron McDonough, president of McDonough Real Estate Group at Silvercreek Realty of Boise; George Cooper, owner of Westminster Homes of Eagle; and Browne Management Services LLC. Each have one-third ownership, McDonough said.

“Because of the location and continuing growth and demand on the North End, we determined we wanted to buy it and put in an offer,” said McDonough, who grew up a block away from Booth and now lives nearby in a different house.

The group does not have a name for their project, but a new name will likely incorporate Booth, he said.

The plan is to convert the larger hospital/school building into three condos and the chapel into two townhomes. Cooper plans to build nine single-family homes measuring 2,500 to 3,800 square feet elsewhere on the 1.86-acre property.

“I’m optimistic we have come up with a really nice plan,” Cooper said.

The condo conversion will start first, as soon as the Salvation Army moves out, with the first residents scheduled to move in six months later, sometime in 2020, Cooper said.

Sale prices for any iteration of housing have not been determined, and reservations will not open for another six to eight months, but McDonough said he has already fielded interest from a couple prospective buyers.

The Salvation Army owned the property at 1617 N 24th St. since 1921, building the Booth Memorial Hospital in 1928, which eventually became Marian Pritchett School.

The Salvation Army is building a new school for pregnant and parenting teens on Emerald Street. Image courtesy of the Salvation Army.

“I feel like I just sold my grandpa’s old Ford pickup truck,” Lloyd said.

The sale of the historic property funds, in part, the new, $11.5 million two-story, 50,000-square-foot school for pregnant and parenting teens that the Salvation Army is building at Emerald Street and Mark Stall Place, next to Horizon Elementary School and across from the Boise City Hall West complex. Fundraising and sale of another property at 11th and Bannock streets covered the balance, Lloyd said.

Construction started in the spring. So far, the four tilt-up concrete walls have been placed for the chapel, and the gymnasium floor has been poured, with work now focused on the elevator shaft, Lloyd said.

erstad ARCHITECTS of Boise is the architect. Jordan-Wilcomb Construction of Boise is the general contractor.

RE/MAX Executives builds office in Nampa

The future RE/MAX Executives office in Nampa is still under construction. Photo courtesy of Yuri Blanco.

The Treasure Valley’s largest RE/MAX franchise is transitioning from leasing office space in Nampa to owning a newly built office on Idaho Center Boulevard.

RE/MAX Executives, based in Eagle, expects to move into the new, $1.1 million, 4,500-square-foot office in mid-October. Construction on the land across from Idaho Center started in May, franchise owner Yuri Blanco said.

RE/MAX had leased 3,500 square feet around the corner on Franklin Road since about 2000.

“We are in real estate; we might as well own,” Blanco said.

RE/MAX Executives, with 43 agents in offices in Eagle and Nampa, is the second largest RE/MAX franchise in Idaho behind RE/MAX Country Real Estate in Pocatello with 46 agents.

Blanco established RE/MAX Executives in 2012 in Eagle and acquired the RE/MAX office in Nampa in 2013, at which time it had about five agents. The Nampa office has since grown to 23 agents, Blanco said.

“Thousands of cars pass by (the Idaho Center Boulevard location) every day,” Blanco said about the move. “We are close to the interstate. We can serve the whole community.”

Blanco acknowledged that many real estate agents now work remotely, but quite a number still like to get out of the house and come to work. The new RE/MAX office will have a large conference room and “cafe-style” lounge with printer and other equipment agents in the field can use, Blanco said.

Blanco joined RE/MAX advantage in 2004, bought out the franchise in 2012 and rebranded it as RE/MAX Executives, which does residential and commercial real estate.

“My belief is Canyon County is doing great,” Blanco said. “There is a lot of business looking to Canyon County.”

RE/MAX has 17 offices in Idaho, including RE/MAX Executives in Eagle and Nampa, RE/MAX Capital City in Boise, RE/MAX Advisors in Meridian and RE/MAX Elite Properties in Boise. Other offices are located in Pocatello, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Ketchum, McCall, Lewiston, Sandpoint, Montpelier and Moscow.

Museum of Idaho launches major expansion and renovation in Idaho Falls

Demolition of the education center in July started the expansion work for the Museum of Idaho (rear) in Idaho Falls. Photo courtesy of Museum of Idaho.

The Museum of Idaho became a downtown Idaho Falls showpiece in 2003 when an expansive, rounded glass façade tied together the 1916 Carnegie Library and the similarly aged Masonic Lodge nearby.

For the past 15 years, though, the museum’s interior has shown two historic buildings awkwardly stitched together with new exhibit space between them.

The 33,000-square-foot museum has to shut down entirely for six to 10 weeks any time a new exhibition is staged because loading and unloading needs to be done through the museum. A $5 million expansion that started in July will enable the museum to remain open all the time.

The museum will add a 20,719-square-foot structure that would include a 15,401-square-foot exhibition hall dedicated to traveling shows. That space can be loaded and unloaded without having an impact on the rest of the museum.

The Museum of Idaho needs more space.  File photo.

“We see this expansion as contributing to the long-term sustainability of the museum,” said Jeff Carr, the museum’s public relations director.

MOI is building the expansion on the parking lot next to the Masonic Lodge. Construction started in July with the demolition of a former Kentucky Fried Chicken on that lot that had served as the museum’s Maeck Education Center. The center will be relocated into the museum’s Masonic Lodge building.

The north wall of the Masonic Lodge will be torn down to attach the expansion, Carr said.

“Then we close off much of the existing museum for internal modifications,” Carr said. “That puts us into spring-summer 2020. The idea is to have the current space of the museum flow better.”

The expansion should open in late summer or early fall 2019. Carr said backers raised $4 million for the construction, including a 3-to-1 match of a $500,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant with $1.5 million raised by the museum, a $1 million gift from the Margaret and Wendell Petty Family, a sizeable undisclosed donation from the William J & Shirley A. Maeck Family Foundation and money from the museum’s sustainability fund.

Alderson Karst & Mitro Architects of Idaho Falls is the architect. Bateman-Hall Construction is the construction manager/general contractor.

Museum of Idaho buys office building

The Museum of Idaho bought an office building behind the museum to house its Wasden Collection of fossils and serve as a research center. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The museum on May 1 bought a one-story, 5,523-square-foot office building for $375,000 behind the museum and across the street.  The building already houses the museum’s recently acquired Wasden Collection of more than 80,000 artifacts unearthed from a cave west of Idaho Falls, and the building also serves as a research center.

The office building comes with 40 parking spaces that replace the parking lost with the expansion; the museum will have 95 parking spaces when the work is completed.

Once the expansion is complete, the existing museum will be renovated as a roughly 10,000-square-foot permanent exhibit called “The Way Out West.”

“Right now, we do not have a comprehensive look at Idaho history,” Carr said. “In the past, we were constricted by space. At present, it’s a mish-mash of things. Our team are in the process now of designing the ideas and what the space of The Way Out West will look like.”

The museum is also working with the community on exhibit planning.

The museum will become much more of a visitor attraction without the extended closures a few times a year, said Catherine Smith, executive director of the Idaho Falls Development Corp, which advances downtown as center for commerce, culture and leisure activities.

“It really turns it into a destination,” Smith said. “It will be accessible all the time. There are those hit and miss times now. It creates a sense of a place you don’t need to seek out.”

The Museum of Idaho expansion (left) will attach to the museum’s Masonic Lodge building. Image courtesy of Museum of Idaho.

The Way Out West exhibit will have seven subject areas: geology; pre-history; resources and industry;  people and culture; Idaho statehood; Bonneville beginnings; and Idaho impact on the rest of the world, specifically the Idaho National Laboratory, headquartered in Idaho Falls.

“Our focus is going to be on eastern Idaho,” Carr said. “(But) we have a duty to represent the state as a whole.”

The Museum of Idaho expansion is starting as Idaho State Museum puts the finishing touches on its $17 million renovation and expansion. The Museum of Idaho expects to achieve accreditation with the American Alliance of Museums about 18 months after the expansion and renovation is complete in 2020, said Carrie Anderson Athay, the museum curator.

This entails having 80 to 90 percent of the museum’s collection accounted for and having a collection management plan in place, Athay said.

Idaho has five institutions accredited by the American Alliance of Museums: the Idaho State Museum in Boise; the Idaho Museum of Natural History at Idaho State University in Pocatello; the Boise Art Museum; The Herrett Center for Arts and Science at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls; and the Sun Valley Center for the Arts Sun Valley.

Wasden fossil collection

Museum of Idaho curator Carrie Anderson Athay examines a fossil in the Wasden colllection recently donated to the museum. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The new Way Out West permanent exhibition at the Museum of Idaho will substantially upgrade the museum’s pre-Columbian section with its recent acquisition of the Wasden fossil collection, which includes more than 80,000 artifacts.

The collection, now stored in more than 300 boxes, has sat mostly unstudied since the 1970s at Idaho State University. The the boxes were transported to the Museum of Idaho in mid-June.

“This is the jumping off point for Way Out West,” said museum Curator Carrie Anderson Athay. “This is our largest collection of artifacts.”

Archaeologists from ISU and the Upper Snake River Prehistoric Society unearthed the artifacts in the 1960s and 1970s on property owned by Leonard Wasden and his brother-in-law Kenneth Huskinson. The Wasden family retained ownership of the artifacts until donating them to the Museum of Idaho this year.

“Probably six months ago they came to me looking for a permanent location,” Athay said. “It was very quick. It’s an amazing donation.”

The Wasden Collection comes from a cave west of Idaho Falls thickly piled with animal fossils and human artifacts, she said.

“It was a kill site,” Athay said. “They would drive (animals) into the caves. These are some of the earliest artifacts of human interaction (with big game).”

The collection includes mounds of bison and mammoth fossils as well as beads, snare traps and projectile points. The cave had artifacts from 14,000 years ago to a few hundred years ago.

“We have ancient camel and also modern horse,” she said.

The Wasden collection is housed in an office building behind the Museum of Idaho that the museum bought in May. The museum plans to turn the building into a collection and research center for scholars.

Naming rights for the building are available for a $500,000 donation to the Museum of Idaho.

New seats, new future for the Idaho Falls civic theater

The Civic Auditorium has been rechristened the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Opening night for the fall season at the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts will have patrons sitting in the first new seats since the recently renamed Civic Auditorium opened in 1953.

The 1,886 ancient seats were cleared out of the auditorium in the first 10 days of July. The auditorium’s orange-and-green color scheme will also be abandoned in favor of a variety of purplish hues.

“It did not work real well together,” the project’s volunteer designer consultant Carol Johnson said about the green walls and the orange seats, which were last reupholstered in the 1970s.

The $1.5 million auditorium revamp is the first of three planned renovations on the 28-foot-high lobby and stage/backstage areas in the vaguely art deco structure.

The Civic Center is the largest theater in eastern Idaho. It’s nearly the size of Idaho’s largest theater, the 2,037-seat Morrison Center for the Performing Arts in Boise.

“It’s reinvestment in the community for our residents and people coming from all over.”

Pam Alexander, Idaho Falls municipal services director

Johnson and Ann Voilleque, a member of the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts Committee, researched theater design of the early 20th century.

“We selected this red and purple and decided to put in in accents of copper,” Johnson said. “This palette was first used by the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1914. They used gold but we decided on copper.”

The 1953 seats have been removed from the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Teya Vitu.

The speaker grills in the wall will be metallic copper, as will the orchestra pit guard rail. The auditorium walls will be purple shades called coquina and poetry plum. The seats will have a dominant red with touches of lavender and dark plum, she said.

“When the lights are low, it will go neutral,” said Johnson, adding that she does not want auditorium décor to distract from the stage during the performance.

The new seats will be larger with more leg room, reducing the auditorium capacity to about 1,800, and the seats will be better aligned for sight lines, said Arthur Kull, chairman of the city’s performing arts center committee.

Crews were grinding and polishing the concrete auditorium floor in mid-July at the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Teya Vitu.

“The seats were right in front of each other. You couldn’t see well,” Kull said. “People will notice a change. We hope that will create some excitement so people will support the next phase.”

A gala reopening of the Civic Center is expected some time in November. Big-D Construction of Salt Lake City is the general contractor.

The city council in 2016 appointed the committee that Kull chairs to explore the long-range plan for the Civic Auditorium. The committee recommended renaming it the Civic Center for the Performing Arts, which happened last year – though the outdoor signage still says Civic Auditorium.

The committee drew up an extensive three-phase overhaul plan, first considering whether to keep or demolish the 1953 facility. The idea of demolition was quickly dismissed, Kull said.



City refocuses on theater

Purples and red will be the new auditorium color scheme at the Idaho Falls Civic Center for the Performing Arts. Image courtesy of city of Idaho Falls.

The city has taken a renewed interest in the theater, which was at the edge of town when built in the early 1950s.

“It was clear the city had not invested a lot of money for many years,” said Pam Alexander, the Idaho Falls municipal services director. “It’s reinvestment in the community for our residents and people coming from all over.”

The Idaho Falls Symphony has been a resident company since the beginning. The region’s Broadway road shows call the Civic home, as do community plays, musicals and dance concerts. Name acts over the decades have included Johnny Cash, Louie Armstrong, Donny Osmond, Motley Crüe, Cirque du Soleil, Blue Man Group and Roger Williams, who has visited many times.

The $1.5 million auditorium project is supported by the city and by $750,000 from the William J. and Shirley A. Maeck Family Foundation. The foundation is also a primary supporter of expansions underway at the Museum of Idaho and Idaho Falls Zoo, as well as extensive remodeling at the College of Eastern Idaho. Local philanthropist Bill Maeck died Feb. 13.

The committee will start evaluating a second phase of renovation in August. This will address the stage and backstage areas and could involve an elevator to the basement, a stage lift for the orchestra pit and create rehearsal rooms and a musical instrument room.

Phases two and three hinge upon plans for Idaho Falls High School.

The Civic Center is attached to Idaho Falls High School, though it has been a separate entity for decades. The Idaho Falls School District will have an Aug. 28 bond election to determine if a new Idaho Falls High School is built. If that happens, the Civic Center proposes expanding the lobby into the high school space and also expanding the backstage area into the high school space, Kull said.

Johnson believes her interior design will evoke an exciting theater experience.

“When you walk in, you realize you’re in a space ready for action,” Johnson said.

D.L. Evans Bank replaces its Rigby branch with new building

D.L Evans Bank is in the early stages of construction of a new branch in Rigby in eastern Idaho. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Burley-based D.L. Evans Bank opened its first Rigby branch in December 2016 and by early this year had decided to replace it with a bigger structure.

D.L. Evans started construction at the end of June on a new 5,716-square-foot branch to replace the 3,000-square-foot structure used for the first year and a half. The new branch will open in January, President and CEO John V. Evans Jr. said.

“We hired exceptional bankers in Rigby,” Evans said. “They have done an exceptional job bringing us customers. We have grown a remarkable amount.”

Evans had a sense Rigby would work out well, opening with seven or eight employees rather than the usual three or four. Rigby now has 11 employees, he said.

The architect is erstad Architects of Boise. The general contractor is Construction Solutions of Idaho Falls.

D.L. Evans early this year also opened its first out-of-state branch in Tremonton, Utah, a 1-hour-20-minute drive from Burley, Evans said, adding that D.L. Evans already had many customers in far northern Utah.

The Rigby and Tremonton branches came about because bankers in those communities approached Evans to open branches in those cities.

“We found some great bankers,” he said. “There is a real shortage of bankers.”

D.L. Evans has another branch under construction in Fruitland that is expected to open late this year.

D.L. Evans Banks has 31 branches in southern Idaho. The bank was established in Albion in 1904. Evans is eager to expand the bank’s territory beyond Boise and Idaho Falls.

“We have some possible opportunities in north Idaho,” Evans said. “We want to get a number of branches in Utah. We don’t have any plans to enter Nevada right now.”

Tru by Hilton taps Idaho Falls for its second Idaho location

Tru by Hilton will open in Idaho Falls in spring 2019. Photo by Teya Vitu.

Tru by Hilton plans to build a hotel in Idaho Falls next spring, the second in Idaho for the brand.

Tru By Hilton Meridian Boise West open in April as one of the first 55 Tru hotels, according to the Tru website.

Construction on the four-story, 94-room Tru in Idaho Falls started in May next door to the Hilton Garden Inn on Lindsey Boulevard, the city’s hotel row. Both properties are owned by entities of B&T Hospitality Management Company, a partnership with Ball Ventures and Rusty Townsend of Idaho Falls.

B&T Hospitality Management will operate Tru. It also owns and operates the neighboring Hilton Garden Inn and the Home2 Suites in Idaho Falls.

The Idaho Falls Tru is one of at least 42 new hotels in Idaho built, under construction or in planning stages since 2015, adding a combined 3,751 rooms to the statewide hotel stock.

Hilton announced the Tru by Hilton brand in January 2016 and the first hotel opened in April 2017 in Oklahoma City.

Hilton describes the midscale Tru brand as “vibrant, affordable and young-at-heart.” Hilton is aggressively placing Tru hotel in the markets, announcing 100 sites at the outset and saying this is “fastest-growing hotel brand in company history.”

Tru by Hilton is the newest Hilton hotel brand. Image courtesy of B&T Hospitality Management.

These are the qualities that attracted the Idaho Falls developers to Tru.

“With a lot of millennial travelers, leisure travelers and SMERF business in the area, we felt like there was a need to be able to offer a new product that touches on these segments,” said Angie Mago, corporate director of sales and marketing at B&T Hospitality Management. SMERF stands for social, military, educational, religious and fraternal groups.

Method Studio of Salt Lake City and Rexburg is the architect. Headwaters Construction of Victor is the general contractor.

B&T Hospitality Management also manages these hotels: the soon-to-open Hilton Garden Inn Boise Downtown;  Hilton Garden Inn Clarksville in Tennessee; Hilton Garden Inn Lehi in Utah; Residence Inn by Marriott in  Gilbert, Arizona; Courtyard by Marriott in Fayetteville, Arkansas; Candlewood Suites in Plano, Texas; and Hyatt Place Lehi in Utah.

Huge Coeur d’Alene apartment project starts construction

The Northern at Coeur d’Alene Place apartments will have 12 24-unit structures. Image courtesy of Thomas Anderl

Construction went vertical June 18 on the 294-unit Northern at Coeur d’Alene Place apartments, a project that will create one of the largest apartment communities in north Idaho when it’s finished in about two years.

Coeur d’Alene developer Tom Anderl is building 12 24-unit structures plus two 6,000-square-foot commercial structures that will each have three apartments above them and possibly a coffee shop and brew pub at street level.

The first 24-plex should be ready for residents in early November with subsequent buildings rolling out every six weeks after that, Anderl said.

About 30 percent of the units will be one bedroom/one bath. Forty percent  will be two-bed/two bath, and another 30 percent three-bed/two-bath. He said they will be market-rate but he did not have rental rates set.

“Certainly at the upper end,” Anderl said.

The Northern on 17.2 acres is being built next to Lake City High School in north-central Coeur d’Alene at Ramsey Road and Hanley Avenue, which Anderl describes as “Main Street and Main Street for residential growth” in Coeur d’Alene. The Northern is part of the 600-acre Coeur d’Alene housing development.

A year-round heated swimming pool will be one of the amenities at the Northern at Coeur d’Alene Place. Image courtesy of Thomas Anderl.

As in the Treasure Valley, apartment construction is abundant in northern Idaho, with the Northern “certainly among the biggest,” said Ben Widmyer, treasurer of the Idaho Apartment Association and a Coeur d’Alene developer.

“Two factors are in play,” Widmyer said. “Large population growth fuels more apartments. There is the generational thing. Younger generation and retiring people are choosing to rent.”

The Coeur d’Alene population grew 14.7 percent from 2010 to 2017 to reach 50,665, the fourth fastest growth rate among Idaho’s larger cities. Coeur d’Alene’s growth rate trails that of the neighboring Post Falls, where growth is happening at 20 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

Spokane-based Bernardo|Wills Architects is the architect and JCW Construction of Hayden is the general contractor.

Anderl and attorney John Magnuson are also involved in a 400-acre housing development at the southern edge of Rathrum, 14 miles north of Coeur d’Alene. They are in the process of annexing the first 152 acres to Rathdrum to build a yet-undetermined number of single-family homes.

They will develop the land and sell it to homebuilders.

“Eventually, we want to bring all that property into the city of Rathdrum,” Anderl said.

The duo donated 7 acres to the Lakeland School District.

“The first 150 acres will help us with what to do with the balance (of the property),” he said.