Thursday, June 16, 2011

BYU-Idaho Threatens to Eat Rexburg

It appears BYU-Idaho is stirring up a small kettle of crazy in our old Rexburg neighborhood and it’s got residents in the area all riled up.

The Rexburg Standard Journal reports today that the university has bought seven homes along College Avenue, with as-yet undisclosed plans for the property.

First, my prediction, which is simple enough to come up with when you look at the neighborhood on Google Maps (zoom in on College Avenue just north of campus):

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I’m unfamiliar with the house numbers in the area, but it appears that with the exception of one address given by the paper, all of the houses are on the right side of the street, facing north. Note there’s also a LDS church on the block.

Here’s the prediction:

The houses will be torn down, naturally. As will the church. A new church will be built on the combined property, along with parking for church and campus use.

My reasoning:

• As badly as the university wants to be a walking campus, this just isn’t so. The university recognizes this and thus is looking for additional parking on the north side of campus, where parking is scarce.
• The church is still short of meetinghouse space for student wards. The church building in question is of a nonstandard design that further limits usage. So it’ll be torn down and replaced with a modern building. Additional student housing complexes going up on First West – where another five homes were razed to make room for it – is only going to make the meetinghouse space situation to the north of campus worse.

Alternate prediction:

The Kirkham building, just to the south of the LDS Church in question, is also slated to be torn down. Either parking or a church building will be put in on the property once the Kirkham is gone, with the additional property to the north being used for parking only. This is a less likely scenario, however, as the trend is for the church building and parking to be built on the same property. A parking lot in place of the Kirkham is more likely than a church building.

I know residents of the area are concerned about their neighborhood disappearing. All I can say to that is, well, that process has already started. The vacant lot that used to stand across the street from our First South home is now student housing. Other residences on the black to the northwest of us have disappeared to become part of another church parking lot or a car wash. Then there are the houses gone for the new student housing. Many of the other homes – ours included – is now student housing. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of that neighborhood is changed.

Most painful to me is to see the house that was formerly the home of the Anderson photo studios, now vacant, gutted, and open to nature, for more than a year. Evidently, the home was victim to the financial crisis. Stray cats are probably living there now.

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