Jan Rogers was working in economic development in southern Idaho when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its plans to build a temple in Twin Falls.
She said at least two new hotels began construction soon after.
“From an economic perspective, that was immediately visible,” she said, adding that later, new homes were also built around the temple.
Rogers said there were many Mormons in southern Idaho and it meant a lot to them to get a temple in their region, but it was something others could enjoy, too.
“It’s just a beautiful picture, coming across the bridge and seeing the temple on the left and the city in front of you,” she said. “It added a lot to the visual landscape of the community as well.”
She calls the time during and after the announcement special. That’s why Rogers, who is now the CEO of Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho, was excited to learn about the church’s plans to build a temple in Pocatello.
“It’s so special again for the surrounding communities of Pocatello to have a temple — a place in their community,” Rogers said.
And she thinks Pocatello will see some of the economic advantages that temples have brought to other cities.
Temples — the church currently has 155 operating throughout the world — have helped to drive economic and real estate activities in many areas.
In a 2008 article about the Rexburg Idaho Temple, the Deseret News reported:
“Economic development almost invariably follows the announcement of a new temple in areas heavily populated by Latter-day Saints, with land values in the area rising as developers put up new housing — some of it expensive homes in exclusive neighborhoods — drawing the faithful and their financial resources.”
John Regetz, executive director of Bannock Development Corporation, believes Pocatello will benefit economically from the addition of a temple. At a minimum, there will be more jobs during the construction phase, he said, and once the temple is complete, there will be more visitors coming to the community. And those people will want to eat at local restaurants, shop at stores and stay in hotels.
“All of the retail environment will see a benefit from that,” Regetz said.
Although the church has not yet declared where the temple will be built, Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad has said it’s likely to be built on land east of Satterfield Drive near the city’s northeast border. The City Council annexed nearly 75 acres of that land Thursday.
The church officials he recently met with told him that location is a strong possibility, although a different location could still be selected.
Ted Crandall, owner of the local Papa Kelsey’s, said his restaurant and others on Alameda, Yellowstone and Pocatello Creek could see an increase in customers if the temple is built in that area. Construction workers and future temple visitors will all be looking for places to eat, he said.
“I hope it increases business. I think it will,” he said.
If the temple is built east of Satterfield, Crandall said his home would be located nearby. That would be exciting to him for two reasons. First, he is a Mormon so the temple is special to him. And second, the temple grounds are typically beautiful.
“I would be excited because the church always does an outstanding job with fences and landscaping,” he said.
He’s not the only one who feels that way.
The Arizona Republic reported in 2009 that the Twin Falls temple not only attracted major chain hotels, but it also increased the values of properties near the temple. The newspaper says demand for homes became high as soon as the site was announced.
“As the focal point of the Mormon faith, a new temple tends to raise property values because church members like to live nearby. And for those outside the faith, temples have a reputation of being good neighbors and can anchor the long-term quality of an area,” the Arizona Republic reported.
Mormon officials say temples can positively affect neighborhood property values even during a difficult economy based on worldwide experiences.
While studies have shown that temples can, but don’t always, lead to increased property values of homes, a study published in 2003 by The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, a nonprofit that strives to provide well-documented responses to criticisms of the LDS church’s beliefs, doctrines and practices, determined that temples don’t make properties unmarketable.
“The sale prices of private real estate near the three LDS temples in this study show fairly conclusively that the presence of the temple does not make a house unmarketable (under any understanding of the term). In cases where the temple would seem to have added value to local homes, it also suggests that the larger the temple is (i.e. the greater the local impact), the more value is added,” according to the study.
Danderson speculates on several reasons why temples may make for good neighbors. He says they are beautiful buildings with immaculate gardens and lawns, and they draw respectful visitors. They also have limited uses when compared to other religious buildings that may regularly host daycare centers or large meetings.
Temples, which church officials say are used for marriages, baptisms and other ceremonies that unite families together for eternity, are constructed with high-quality materials and follow rigorous building standards.
“The high building standards are in place for two main reasons: first, Latter-day Saints believe their temples are among the holiest places on earth and tributes to God; second, the Church builds these temples to last hundreds of years,” according to a Mormon Newsroom article, which adds that construction workers involved often consider the projects to be the zenith of their careers.
Greg Johnston, a sales agent for Keller Williams Realty East Idaho, agrees that temples are beautiful buildings and he says their landscaping, which often includes flowers and fountains, is park-like.
“Who wouldn’t want to live next to a park? It’s very nice,” Johnston said.
He’s already heard some people express a desire to live near the temple one day.
Johnston says the temple could also draw some higher-end houses to the area, which the local market could easily absorb.
Gloria Howell, another local real estate associate broker, also believes the temple will positively affect Pocatello in many ways in the future — from real estate, to construction to an increased number of visitors.
“It’s a real blessing,” she said.