The Jackson Planning Commission approved a development plan for a historic downtown block, marking another advance toward fulfilling a community effort to preserve the property.
The plan does not actually propose any physical development for the block on East Broadway. Instead, it outlines a major shift in development potential, concentrating thousands of square feet of retail space in one corner of the property and leaving the rest of the area essentially as is.
“This is really the next step,” said George Putnam of Cirque Consulting. “We feel it’s a really mindful breakdown and allocation of the development rights that will allow this property and project to succeed.”
The arrangement means the three historic cabins fronting Broadway — Cafe Genevieve, Persephone Bakery and Healthy Being Juicery — along with the green space around them, will remain more or less in their current state.
Under the proposed plan, the northwest corner of the block will be allowed a maximum of 52,000 square feet of floor area, compared to the roughly 37,000 currently allowed.
In turn, the owners will extinguish about 37,000 square feet of development potential scattered around the other parts of the block, bringing the entire property’s limit from just over 100,000 square feet to about 67,000.
This agreement would entail a large reduction in potential floor area for the lots housing the historic cabins. Under the current zoning they could all be redeveloped to about 8,500 square feet, but the development plan proposes to keep them to between 1,300 and 1,900. That’s just a few hundred additional square feet for each, beyond the existing structures, to be used for minor expansions.
The plan would also eliminate all development potential — 29,000 square feet — on the green space lot at the northeast corner of the block.
“Overall, the total amount of habitable floor area that is contemplated with this development plan is significantly less than the amount of floor area that could be built were those structures to be razed and rebuilt,” associate planner Brendan Conboy said.
The plan comes from an anonymous family, known only as Cafe G LLC, and Cirque Consulting. The family put the property under contract earlier this year, giving the community time to complete a massive fundraising campaign to purchase easements — held by the Jackson Hole Land Trust — to protect the cabins and green space in perpetuity. After several months and about 5,500 donations, the effort ultimately succeeded in raising $7 million.
The Town Council now has to approve the development plan, and after that it has to approve a subdivision of the property into several lots. When all is said and done, the owners of the restaurants operating in the historic cabins will each purchase and steward their respective lots.
As for the open grass field at the northeast corner, it will be guided by the Rendezvous Land Conservancy, which also owns and operates R Park on the west bank of the Snake River. The green space will be transformed into a park, but Amberley Baker, an attorney representing the Land Trust, said it’s unclear what it will look like.
“It’s a little bit early in the process to plan exactly what’s going to be there,” she said.
Robbin Levy Mommsen, the anonymous family’s attorney, said they hope to finalize all subdivisions and ownership transitions in the next few months. Mommsen said the family will maintain ownership of the northwest lot, which now has enormous development potential, but that they have no plans for it in the foreseeable future.
“Theoretically, [it] could be a big building someday,” she said. “But right now it’s a bunch of asphalt and stuff, and we don’t anticipate changing that anytime soon.”