440 W. Kelly meeting

Perri Stern gives public comment during a recent joint meeting between the Jackson Town Council and the Teton County Board of County Commissioners at the County Administration Building. Much of the meeting was devoted to discussion and public comment about a proposed affordable housing development at 440 W. Kelly Ave. Stern spoke against the proposal.

With two of Jackson’s key housing projects in limbo, the Town Council will revisit both Monday in search of a way to salvage them.

In the past month, plans for housing on King Street and Kelly Street — which together would have provided nearly 50 units — both fell through. The 174 N. King Street project has twice been passed up for the low-income tax credits it needs, and elected officials have so far failed to reach agreement on the controversial 440 W. Kelly project.

In applying for tax credits, Teton County faces steep odds. Abnormally high construction costs compared with the rest of the state make it hard to win over the Wyoming Community Development Authority, which awards the credits.

After the second failed application last month, it seems officials are back to the drawing board. On Monday, the council will reconsider the basics of the King Street project, including what income ranges it should serve and whether it should be composed of ownership or rental units.

The council may reopen the project to any interested developers, or it may simply ask for new proposals from the top two contenders in the first round, when the project was approved in early 2018.

In that case, Westmount Development, which had been selected to build the project, could present a new proposal that doesn’t rely so heavily on tax credits. The other developer, the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust, has already resubmitted its original proposal with updated costs.

Housing Trust Director Anne Cresswell said “time is of the essence” if their project is to be underway by spring, hence the unsolicited offer.

“That’s why we didn’t even wait until this discussion to be asked,” she said. “This has to be buttoned up in August.”

As for the West Kelly project, elected officials last month rejected a proposal for 16 units amid fierce opposition from neighbors wary of such density. The decision hinged on the county vote, where the majority of commissioners opposed it. On the council, the majority supported it. The two bodies own the property jointly, so they both have a say in its future.

But if the town were to buy the county’s portion for roughly $940,000, it would have complete control over its use. Presumably, the council would still have the three votes necessary to move ahead with the denser project.

Alternatively, the council could settle for a 12-unit design. County commissioners seemed more open to that idea, but some members of both boards said they would rather sell the property than build fewer than 16 units.

The two bodies together could sell it to a private entity, perhaps with permanent deed restrictions in place that would require a developer to build workforce housing on the site.

The council will discuss the projects during a workshop at 2 p.m. Monday at Town Hall.

Contact Cody Cottier at 732-5911 or town@jhnewsandguide.com.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

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