A joint town and county housing project on West Kelly Avenue will be the first experiment in the town’s new high-density residential zoning.

As elected officials determine which of two developers should build the project, neighbors fear the 16-unit complex is too drastic of a change for a street home to mostly single-family ranch houses.

“Both of the designs place an incompatible level of height, mass and density into an otherwise one-, two-story single-family area,” Kelly Avenue resident Perri Stern said at a May 6 meeting. “The planned development at this parcel is not at all in line with the scale and character of our neighborhood.”

At that initial meeting, Jackson/Teton County Affordable Housing Department Director April Norton explained that the area has long been slated as a “transitional” neighborhood to concentrate future dense, workforce housing.

After purchasing the 0.31-acre property for $1.7 million in January, the town and county solicited developers to build on it. The request for proposals asked for a minimum of 15 units to force potential developers to build smaller units, which have the greatest demand, Norton said.

Two proposals were selected as finalists, each delivering 16 units that would be restricted for ownership by full-time local workers.

The first proposal is from J. Roller Development and Tack Development. It shows 12 one-bedroom units at 500 square feet, and four three-bedroom, two-bathroom units at 1,100 square feet. The total cost is $5 million for the three-story project, with a projected sale price of $300,000 for each one-bedroom and $625,000 for each three-bedroom unit.

The second proposal, from Design Associates, shows 10 one-bedroom apartments from 450 to 500 square feet, and six two-bedroom apartments from 600 to 750 square feet. The total project cost was put at $3.36 million, with the units priced at about $279,000 to $329,000. A defining feature is that the building is only two stories tall, with parking a half-story underneath.

Both the Housing Supply Board and Norton are recommending the Roller/Tack proposal, determining that while the units are pricier, the proposed local contractor — Shaw Construction — is reliable and has a proven track record of accurate cost estimates. The Design Associates proposal, they felt, introduced more uncertainty because of its reliance on modular construction built remotely.

However, several people provided public comments skeptical of both proposals.

“I just think that the increased density needs to be in appropriate locations. This is not an appropriate location for this project,” Bruce Hawtin said. “I certainly support the increase in density. I just think it’s the wrong project at the wrong location.”

Others were concerned about the price tag.

“Who are the people that are gonna buy these units at $300,000?” Christine Karns May asked. “I’m the workforce. I’ve been the workforce here for 50 years. I don’t make that kind of money to invest in that kind of property.”

Selection of a developer for 440 West Kelly is the first item on the agenda at a special joint meeting scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday in the county commission chambers, 200 S. Willow St.

Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063 or county@jhnewsandguide.com.

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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