Apartments being refurbished on Poplar

Apartments being refurbished at 1002 Poplar Street.

A Utah businessman has purchased a run-down apartment complex in Pocatello's Alameda neighborhood and has already commenced with a major overhaul.

Christopher Huffman, with Salt Lake City based AIM Capital, closed on the old Poplar Apartments, located at 1002 Poplar St., earlier this month and is rebranding them as Cottages at Poplar.

Huffman said he bought the complex — which includes 50 units in five buildings on 3.5 acres — for $2.3 million from a group of local owners, who operated as Poky Poplar LLC. Huffman intends to invest nearly $500,000 in improving the facilities, which he acknowledges have not been up to the neighborhood's standards.

"This place in the past has not necessarily been known to be a really safe and a good place to live. We are going to change that," Huffman said. "As a property owner, this complex drags other comparable rents down, and as a tenant it hasn't offered the highest safety for the neighborhood."

In Old Town Pocatello, a separate run-down apartment building is also poised for a major makeover, funded by a different Utah company. The abandoned Riverside Apartments, 729 W. Center St., will undergo a $1.5 million renovation, which should be completed within a year.

As is the case with the Riverside Apartments in Old Town, Huffman believes residents of the Alameda neighborhood are overjoyed that a liability near their homes will soon be turned into an asset. Huffman said the property has great potential, largely due to its terrific location.

"This whole neighborhood is awesome," Huffman said. "It's a nice neighborhood, but the property currently does not fit the neighborhood."

Huffman said about 10 tenants who had not been paying their rent have been evicted. He imagines a few more tenants will soon leave voluntarily, as the state-of-the-art security system he's installing in the apartments may not be "conducive to their lifestyle."

Several good tenants, however, are staying and have been given the option of moving into improved units as they're rehabilitated. Four units have already been improved, and six more should be finished within the next three weeks. Huffman expects to have about 20 units updated within the next six months.

Rents in the apartments have ranged from $550 to $625. Rents will be $675 to $750 for updated units. At present, Huffman said some apartments have carpeting that was laid down but never stretched or tacked, garbage bags covering broken windows and holes in walls and flooring.

He'll be replacing windows, repainting interiors, installing vinyl plank flooring, upgrading cabinets and countertops and replacing wiring and plumbing. Many appliances will be replaced, as well.

"Not every unit will have all of these, but we're going to bring the entire standard of the units up dramatically," Huffman said. "When you walk in with your family it will be a place you would feel safe and feel clean."

Exteriors will be painted and will have some siding replaced. Some builders will have new gutters and roofing installed, and handrails will be added or replaced. The asphalt in the parking lot will also be redone.

"There's a big area in the complex that's overrun and not maintained. We're going to be adding a picnic area and a playground," Huffman said.

Apartments will also be wired for high-speed internet.

The apartments will be managed by Jacob Grant Property Management out of Idaho Falls. Huffman said the property is zoned for up to 100 units, and he anticipates building a couple of new buildings with to add another 20 to 30 units to the complex in the coming years.