One Town Hill is the biggest change to the base of Snow King Mountain in years, but developer Jim Walter says it’s not what many people expect.
The 57,000-square-foot mixed-use development sits in a busy recreation area — the ski slopes are right there, two lifts in sight — but Walter is aiming for a place where people live, not just visit or rent their units to other visitors.
He nods out a west-facing window in the direction away from the ski slopes as proof that it’s more than a vacation rental project.
“What do you see?” he asked, looking at the Pine Drive and Aspen Drive neighborhood, one of Jackson’s oldest. “You see residential.”
“There will be families living here, using this as a residence,” the founder and president of Crystal Creek Capital said. “I would think a good portion of the owners will use it for their families and friends.”
“We’ve got some people moving here to put kids in high school,” said Mack Mendenhall, the Christie’s International Real Estate agent who has the listing for the project.
‘We want the lights on’
During more than a year of study about what mix of uses would best suit the site and the market, Walter said, the decision was reached to go for the residential segment. Short-term rentals are allowed in the zone, and that’s an attraction for many, he said, but it’s “not the sole focus.”
“When we planned this we wanted to make sure it would be something that people could be proud to own and live in, not just proud to rent it,” he said. “We want lights on. We want life, people living and enjoying the building and the area.”
All the major work on the building is done, after a construction schedule that stretched over two years. Walter and Mendenhall, who has been involved since early planning, said about 30 percent of the units have been sold.
The north-facing bottom floor — 3,000 square feet — has three commercial spaces. One has been purchased by Mountain Business Center, which is preparing to move in.
Prices start at $1.2M
The 34 open-market condos include four one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedrooms, nine three-bedroom units and a penthouse. There are also five workforce units — two studios and three two-bedroom units — to satisfy town rules.
The smallest one-bedroom units run about 840 square feet and start in the $1.2 million range, Mendenhall said. The two bedrooms start at $1.35 million, and the three-bedrooms start at $2 million with around 2,000 square feet.
The architect for the building was Larry Berlin’s firm, Berlin Architects. He aimed to keep a big building as unobtrusive as possible by stepping its bulk back toward the rising mountain to the south.
The units, whatever their overall size, all have equally large kitchens and baths along with storage and laundry spaces. All seem built to take advantage of the views in every direction and let in a lot of light.
On the north side of One Town Hill six units have exposure on two sides of the building; on the south side there are three units with two-side exposure. Six pedestrian residential entrances on different levels allow people to get from the condos to the outdoors and adjacent skiing and hiking.
Each of the two- and three-bedroom units has two spaces in the covered parking. Each unit also has additional storage in a common area.
The modern interior design work — wooden floors, marble countertops, lots of white to brighten the rooms — was done by Jacque Jenkins-Stireman of JJS Design. The general contractor was GE Johnson.
Walter said the original idea was for about 70 studio and one-bedroom units, but in surveying potential buyers and real estate agents he found that wasn’t the demand. People wanted larger units, and there was a market for places that could be homes rather than vacation places. He called the early surveying and planning “a collaboration of a lot of feedback from the community.”
“It took a heck of a lot of time to determine exactly what the market wanted,” Walter said. “We spent time thinking what is right for the space.”
Sweating the small stuff
Mendenhall said a look around the the base of Snow King also couldn’t avoid the conclusion that “the area doesn’t need a restaurant” right now and that “it doesn’t need a coffee shop” given what’s already nearby.
The planning also involved a lot of time looking closer at tiny details, Mendenhall said.
“We researched all the other storage units in town,” he said. “We have photo documentation of the interiors of every elevator in town.”
“We sweated the small stuff,” Walter said.
One Town Hill isn’t for people whose tastes run to seclusion, and Mendenhall allowed that the weekend of the World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb — on the adjacent ski slope — won’t be a good time to sleep in.
But no development can satisfy every desire, Walter said.
“What’s for ‘everybody’?” he asked. “There’s no one size fits all, as in all pieces of real estate.”
For people oriented to the activities of Jackson, One Town Hill is perfect, he said, mentioning the People’s Market held close by and the summer concerts and a variety of other activities. He pointed to the Center for the Arts, in sight a couple of blocks up Cache Street and Town Square beyond.
“I can’t think of a better place to enjoy everything Jackson has to offer,” he said.
An early buyer was Matt Wiener, who with his wife, Jennifer, was in town last week adding their personal touch to the two-bedroom, 1,650-square-foot unit they closed on about a month ago. They’ve been coming to Jackson for about nine years and previously owned a condo in Teton Village at Hotel Terra.
“I really like the feeling of being in town, and we love the condo,” Wiener said. “We plan to continue to spend more time here.”
Wiener, who works in real estate financing for Wells Fargo in New York City, said his family hopes to spend summer and winter time here, and in the next few years might possibly move to Jackson. He and his wife have considered putting their kids in school here, and though they haven’t made that move he said it could still happen if things work out.
One Town Hill sits near land that is bound for development at the same time that the ski mountain ownership is struggling through a long master plan negotiation with the town of Jackson and the U.S. Forest Service.
Across Cache Street the site of Lift restaurant is set to become a new condominium project. Within about 100 yards, three of the corners of the Cache and Snow King Drive intersection are vacant.
Crystal Creek has also been busy pursuing other business since Walter founded it in 2009 while emphasizing a “we live here, we work here, we’re part of the community” image for the firm.
The Snake River site of R Park, an old gravel pit, was originally bought by the firm with the idea of creating three house lots, but was sold to the park nonprofit when it identified the site as a good place for public recreational use.
Crystal Creek owns the Springhill Suites by Marriott hotel near the Center for the Arts and Mountain Modern Motel on West Broadway, and is developing the new hotel on the northeast corner of Town Square.