Jackson Hole, WY News

105 Mercill

The right half of the property is the Mercill site where new employee housing and commercial space will be built. The left side is Children’s Learning Center.

Teton County officials are seeking developers to build at least 22 units of affordable housing on county-owned land on Mercill Avenue.

Under a new development model, the Jackson/Teton County Affordable Housing Department buys land and then requests proposals from private developers to build employee housing. The town and county maintain ownership of the land while the developer owns improvements and rents or sells the units, sharing project risk. Commissioners approved a request for proposals for 105 Mercill on Tuesday and released it Wednesday.

The site is next to the Children’s Learning Center and near schools, parks and a START bus stop. Zoning allows for building up to three stories and calls for “a vibrant, mixed-use” area with retail, office, lodging and residential activities.

The project may include any mix of affordable units, which are restricted based on income, and workforce units, reserved for full-time Teton County workers regardless of earnings. Five units would be reserved for county employees.

All units would be sold, rather than rented, a response to an expected influx of rentals in the coming years. The housing department anticipates that 90 percent of new units being completed in the next two years will be rentals, Housing Director April Norton said.

Developers have an option to also include market-rate units or nonresidential space on the ground floor. If market units are proposed, they can only take up a maximum of 25 percent of the total livable floor area, reserving 75 percent for deed-restricted housing. If ground-floor commercial space is proposed, all of the residential units must be deed-restricted.

After a failed attempt to pursue a shared parking program with the Children’s Learning Center, commissioners decided to require the development to provide the full amount of parking spaces required by town regulations — at least 33 — rather than lowering the standard to accommodate more space for housing.

An informational meeting for interested developers is scheduled for 1 p.m. March 19 at 320 S. King Street. Proposals from developers are due by 4 p.m. May 23. County commissioners will select the winning proposal.

 

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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