North Gate construction

Dirt is moved at the site of the future Northgate Apartments and townhouses in the Northgate District of Pocatello.

POCATELLO — A Rexburg builder has broken ground on a roughly $30 million housing project that will include 404 multifamily apartment and townhouse units on land within the city’s Northgate District.

Kartchner Commercial Builders is building five townhouses, each with five units, in addition to a large apartment complex to be called the Northgate Apartments.

Kartchner’s project represents the first significant development to move forward in the Northgate area, which is located east of Interstate 15.

The apartment units and townhouses will be located at 1500 Venture Way — formerly part of Chubbuck Road — and should be completed by the spring, said the project manager, Cody Puzey. Puzey said the project broke ground in late August and builders are involved in moving earth and laying foundations.

“I think Southeast Idaho in general is obviously growing and whether we like it or not there’s lots of people moving here, and housing is just getting so expensive there’s going to be a need for apartments,” Puzey said.

Arlo Luke, who heads a Northgate Focus Group of local businessmen and professionals, emphasized that while Kartchner bought land to develop within Northgate, the builder’s designs and plans have not been made in conjunction with the broader, large-scale master-planned community. Luke said the much-anticipated master-planned community will be pedestrian friendly with housing, a shopping district, a technology park and thousands of homes and housing units.

“If this thing does happen it’s going to be revolutionary for this community,” Luke said.

Puzey said Kartchner will build one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. He was not prepared to offer estimates of rental rates or townhouse prices.

Puzey said the apartments will be among the nicest in the area and several amenities are planned, including a swimming pool, a pet spa, walking trails, a clubhouse and a fitness area.

The initial vision developers behind the Northgate District shared of a bustling multi-use area that would create thousands of jobs has been slow to materialize.

The Northgate District celebrated its groundbreaking in September of 2017. To date, just three homes have been sold, and a fourth home is under construction, said Richard Bigelow, the city’s building official. Bigelow said that fourth home, which is in the drywall stage, and the large project submitted by Kartchner are the only projects currently permitted in the Northgate area.

“I have been reached out to by some design professionals for some other stuff, but nothing has been turned in,” Bigelow said. “Kartchner is the big mover right now.”

Jim Johnstone, a former City Councilman who now serves as interim director of Bannock Development Corp., which is tasked with luring development into the community, said his organization recently made it a priority to do more to help the Northgate District succeed.

“As the interim director of Bannock Development, I am really supportive of what they’re doing, and we are trying to do some promoting (of Northgate) to the companies we currently are courting into our Bannock County area,” Johnstone said.

Johnston’s organization prepares analyses for prospective companies about property availability. The organization works with Idaho Power, Intermountain Gas, the city and others to provide companies an estimate of what it would cost to build here.

Johnston said he’s received inquiries lately from businesses located in large cities, such as Portland, Oregon, interested in relocating to a more rural setting.

Local retired dentist Gene Hoge also serves on the focus group, which formed in June 2019 to help keep the project moving forward and plan for its future.

Hoge said the focus group meets every two weeks and is tasked with responsibilities such as developing a brochure to present to CEOs of companies eying Northgate. Hoge said a comprehensive website about the project, northgatedistrict.com, is in the final stages of development.

Hoge believes the coronavirus pandemic abruptly stalled progress at Northgate, including work on a Portneuf Medical Center medical complex that would have otherwise broken ground in August.

Nonetheless, Hoge remains optimistic that Northgate will realize its promise of becoming a place where people can live, play and work. He believes the December completion of an Interstate 15 interchange serving that area should make the property especially appealing.

“Northgate is going to have a brand that is totally exciting,” Hoge said.

Hoge said there’s about 5,000 acres of land available in Northgate, and he still expects to see construction of about 10,000 homes, with many in the $240,000 range.

Hoge said the focus group has also been discussing the possibility of a million-square-foot research park, a five-star hotel, an 18-hole golf course and a wholistic medical treatment center at Northgate.