By – Connor Shea
The much anticipated Depot Square affordable housing project in downtown Driggs officially opened its doors last Thursday and was celebrated by many officials and builders alike.
The building is home to 34 residential units (1,2, and 3-bedroom units, 30 of which are limited to 30%-60% of Area Median Income), 3 live-work units, 4 “proof-of-concept” commercial spaces, and one large commercial space.
The project’s construction was started with an official groundbreaking just over a year ago in August of 2022 after a partnership between the City of Driggs, the Teton County Joint Housing Authority, and developers Northwest Real Estate Capital Corp. (NWRECC, out of Boise, ID), among other businesses.
NWRECC Vice President — Development Jess Giuffre filled in for the ill Senior Property Developer John Vance on the podium and began by giving props to the City of Driggs.
“It’s been about three years in the making to the point where we’re at today,” said Giuffre.
“There is a lot of work that went into this project before the first shovel went into the ground. The City of Driggs made the conscious decision to help solve the housing crisis that’s been experienced in Teton Valley over the past several years. There were long discussions about what the City of Driggs could do to help mitigate the situation,” said Giuffre.
Mayor August Christensen then received a ceremonial plaque from Giuffre and NWRECC, celebrating the achievement.
“Today has finally come. We have been waiting for this and working towards this moment for a long time,” said Christensen. “It all started with the Joint Housing Authority lighting the fire and encouraging the Driggs City Council to donate this land that we are on. Thank you, Housing Authority, for getting this all started.”
Christensen was also very appreciative of the 4 “proof-of-concept” or “incubator” spaces, given to local businesses that are just starting out and will benefit from the low capital cost of each space.
The four businesses are Ollie’s Mountain Pet Supply and Wash, Dolce Baking Company, Itzayana’s Gift Shop, and Live Breezy Shop and Studio. “This means that four local residents are able to start new and different businesses,” said Christensen. “I can’t wait to start supporting these new locally owned and operated businesses.”
It was an absolutely phenomenal day for the ribbon cutting, with sunlight falling beautifully on the east side of the building.
More recognition and plaques were handed out to representatives from the Idaho Housing and Finance Association, Wells Fargo and PNC Bank, the Driggs Urban Renewal Agency, Bonneville Multifamily Capital, CSHQA Architecture, and CSDI Construction.
Shawn Hill, chair of the Teton County Joint Housing Authority, also made some kind remarks as to the meaning of the project.
“Great partnerships come when there’s shared trust, transparency, and commitment,” said Hill. “That’s what we had with all of the project partners. And I think that’s why we’ve been able to enjoy the success.”
“I just want to note with this project, we housed people and people drive our economy, they take care of our community, and they restore our environment,” said Hill. “When we house people, we will enjoy economic, social, and environmental success, so here’s to this project, and here’s to the continued success of this wonderful community.”
NWRECC President Noel Gill closed out the remarks, stating how he believes that this project exemplifies what it means to invest in communities.
“This community really represents a great standard for rural. We’re excited to look at new opportunities and continue to participate in the rural communities and bring this type of housing. For us, it’s an honor to open this up to the families that are beginning to move in here and the businesses that are going to call this home,” said Gill. “It’s the greatest security that we can provide for families to grow and thrive in our communities, to give them the opportunity to participate in life, work, and in play.”
One live-work unit is still available for occupancy, as is the main commercial corner space. There are also some other units available for rent as well. Contact email@example.com for availability.