Twin Falls' economic and community cornerstones are returning to the city’s historic downtown, one building at a time. In addition to new construction in the city center, several redevelopment projects are giving new life to old properties and creating a vibrant urban atmosphere.
“Downtown is the heart and soul of our community,” says Melinda Anderson, economic development director for the city of Twin Falls. “The downtown area is a gathering place for our community, and provides character for our city. It is both our history and our future.”
For instance, First Federal Savings Bank recently broke ground on a new 35,000-square-foot office building that will employ about 100 workers. In summer 2013, Glanbia Foods opened its new 35,000-square-foot office building and 14,000-square-foot research center in Old Town. The new facility will start with 100 employees, but has room for growth.
In recent years, private investment has been reviving historic downtown buildings and giving them new purpose. The Simpson building, built in 1906, once served as a warehouse for Gem State Paper Supply, but had been empty since the 1980s. It reopened as an office building in 2003, and houses professional offices for three law firms, an accounting firm and a financial advisory firm, says Jeffrey Hepworth, one of the building's owners and an attorney who works there. Another building, which was originally a flour mill, has been renovated, updated and now houses a brewpub.
Projects like this show that "urban redevelopment is a win-win for the developers, as well as the community," Hepworth says. "With an agricultural economy, it is important to protect farmland from development, maximize the use of urban land, maximize the use of existing infrastructure and minimize expenditure of tax dollars. It is gratifying to take property viewed as a dilapidated liability and transform it into a functioning, efficient, historical asset."
For businesses looking for a convenient and charming location with plenty of foot traffic, revitalized downtown buildings are ideal.
“I purposely chose a retail space that represents and reminds people of a time when customer service was valued and practiced,” says Kindsey Ringenberg, owner of The Brass Monkey, a clothing store that recently opened in a renovated space on Main Avenue. “I also wanted the structure to match my business brand, which includes quality, character and originality. I love bringing people into the old town charm that these buildings represent and adding in my own contemporary twist.”
Along with The Brass Monkey, other downtown businesses that have found a home in redeveloped buildings include Twin Falls Sandwich Co., Treasure Valley Coffee, O’Dunken’s Draught House, Rudy’s A Cook’s Paradise, and Ooh La La! Fashion Boutique. For these businesses, their employees and customers, the downtown area’s signature blend of old and new makes it the city’s go-to destination.
“The repurposed buildings are the backbone to the downtown atmosphere,” Ringenberg says. “They bring an awareness of the history of Twin Falls, which always gives a sense of connection to the local community. It’s something to be proud of.”
Check out more on the Twin Falls, ID downtown area.