The finish line is in sight for a campaign to preserve a historic downtown block, Jackson Hole Land Trust President Laurie Andrews said.
“We can see it from here!” she said. “We are charging toward the finish line with $2.5 million left to raise, and that’s incredibly exciting for us.”
Aiming to save the historic buildings and community green space the downtown block offers, the nonprofit is in the midst of a campaign to raise a total of $7.5 million by Aug. 4 to protect the property from a hotel redevelopment. The amount that has been raised currently stands at $4.1 million from more than 3,200 donors, according to the Land Trust late Thursday afternoon.
After a successful “Million Dollar May” challenge grant was met, the Land Trust secured a second $1 million challenge grant for funds to be raised by the Fourth of July. With that goal met and a month left before the deadline, Andrews said, the project will take on its final challenge.
“We’ve now been able to get it down ... we’ll be going into our last challenge, which is the finish line, which is amazing,” Andrews said.
To celebrate, the Land Trust launched a Fourth of July float in the annual parade. “Superheroes” in “Save the Block” capes waved flags and beat drums, as Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” blasted from a VW Bus.
Supporters watched the parade from a viewing party at the 135 E. Broadway parcel featuring a barbecue and Bloody Marys.
Alongside the green space, Persephone sold pastries while Cafe Genevieve served mac and cheese from its catering truck, despite a Tuesday fire that wrecked the restaurant’s kitchen.
After a pending sale of the block threatened to bulldoze the buildings, an anonymous family stepped up to put the property under contract. But the family does not plan to develop or steward the land long term. Rather, the goal is to come up with a plan that achieves preservation of what the community cherishes about the land — its green space and historical character — while recouping the costs of the $22 million purchase price.
Under the proposal, each of the three historic cabins would be separated into its own lot and placed under a historic preservation easement, a first for the valley. The easements would protect the structures in perpetuity. They also would protect the facades and green space surrounding the buildings and require their maintenance. Individual philanthropic investors would be sought to purchase and steward each cabin property, and the fundraising effort would help cover the cost of the easements.
The Land Trust is also raising funds to permanently protect the surrounding green space. The trust hopes to purchase green space easements on the area between Persephone and Healthy Being Juicery, as well as the eastern half of the land facing Deloney Avenue.
A rezoning proposal, to be heard by the Jackson Town Council on July 15, seeks to increase the development potential on the northwest corner of the block, which will potentially be sold off to help recoup purchase costs.
If the purchase is successful, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum hopes to relocate its historic cabins from Mercill Avenue to the block, possibly paid for by the specific purpose excise tax.
Visit SaveTheBlock.org to learn how to donate to the project.