A fly-in community being marketed to wealthy jet-setters has broken ground with lots for sale on a private inholding surrounded by a remote reach of the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
An “exclusive private community” called “Renegade, Wyoming,” has been platted on 19 lots hugged between the Greys River Road and the river itself, approximately 25 miles upstream from Alpine. A centerpiece of the community is a new $3.5 million paved runway. Prospective homeowners who spring for one of the $2.9-million-plus properties also get a share in a new Kodiak Turbo Prop plane to reach the subdivision from Star Valley or Jackson Hole airports.
Renegade’s marketing materials read like they were crafted by a high-end branding agency, and they were: Water Mill, New York-based Bespoke Marketing, a firm that caters to “ultra luxury.”
“Discover a life of sophisticated luxury set against the backdrop of Wyoming’s exquisite landscape — an exclusive world destination that strikes the perfect balance between elevated modernity and natural tranquility,” a Renegade promotional pamphlet reads.
The pitch goes on to list characteristics of the tristate ecosystem as nearby amenities: “Located at the southern end of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem, brimming with more than 100 glacier-carved alpine lakes, pristine rivers and thousands of miles of trails enveloped by mountains and geysers ... Renegade is buttressed by over 19 million acres of untamed beauty.”
Renegade’s predecessor, Blindbull Meadows, was among the most contested developments in Lincoln County while developers navigated the approval process six years ago. An anti-Blindbull Facebook page sprang up, and Star Valley residents who formally weighed in were largely opposed to significant development of the gravel road corridor along the Greys River, a recreation area cherished by locals. First proposed in 2013, the development originally featured 29 homes spread over 73 acres. Nearly all of the dozens of public comments that Lincoln County Planning Director John Woodward received urged county leaders to reject the plan.
The development was largely OK’d by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, however, with just 20 lots. Three years later, with much less fanfare from opponents, an adjacent parcel was acquired and an additional 20 lots approved. Three more adjacent inholdings were also purchased and incorporated.
In 2018 the development was renamed Renegade and successfully plotted, but at 19 lots instead of the 43 lots that developers were by then entitled to. The reason for being truncated, Woodward told the News&Guide, was to make Renegade more exclusive.
The News&Guide’s attempts to interview Renegade’s developers fell short. Some of the investors involved, a group that includes Star Valley residents Dan Schwab and Mark Nicoll, initially agreed to an interview but later canceled.
Woodward said he’s not sure why opposition to the development abated, but said pushback sagged noticeably by the time the second phase of the project was proposed in 2016.
“There is still people who hate it, and there are people it doesn’t bother,” Woodward said. “If you’re a frequent user of public lands it might bother you to drive through the development, but it hasn’t impacted the area as much as some people thought it would. The wildlife still come and go.”
Afton retiree Dave Hunt, who spent part of his career developing housing projects, was among the Star Valley residents who fiercely contested the Renegade community in 2013 when it was going by its former name, Blindbull. After commissioners approved a curtailed version of what was proposed, Hunt, like others, stopped paying attention.
“I stay away from it,” Hunt said. “We here in Wyoming respect private property rights.
“As elected officials, [Lincoln County commissioners] weren’t going to step on those rights of individual property owners,” he said. “From the hearings I attended, they did all they could to shape and constrain it into what they thought was appropriate given the location inside of a national forest.”
Hunt now avoids that portion of the Greys River corridor.
“For me and my riding buddies, we have no interest in it,” he said. “It was an eyesore and totally inappropriate for the location and will always be an eyesore as far as I’m concerned.”
Renegade’s neighbors also aren’t enamored. The subdivision isn’t the only privately owned inholding located along one of the Bridger-Teton’s busiest roads, which provides passage between the Wyoming and Salt River ranges. A mile or so upriver the historic Box Y Lodge and Ranch has offered a decidedly more traditional Western guest ranch experience for decades. Cory Frome, Box Y’s manager, said his employer has been disappointed with the development down the road.
“It’s private land, and they should be able to do something with it,” Frome said, “but at the same time they should be cognizant of the area. It’s open and wild and undeveloped.”
The Renegade community is still in the early stages of being sold and built. At least three of the 19 lots have been sold and another sale is pending, according to its website. The owner of one of those lots is listed as a company, CC Investors, according to Lincoln County’s GIS. Another 2-acre lot abutting the Renegade Subdivision is listed under the name of Star Valley resident Kip Wilkes, who owns the Valley Market in Thayne, and who is a holdover resident of the Greyback Ranch subdivision, which Renegade has mostly bought up. An attempt to reach Wilkes for an interview this week was not successful.
Much of the Renegade community is still on the drawing board, Woodward said. The Lincoln County planning director said that runway and roads have all been paved, but that the permitting process is still underway for the main lodge and a hangar to store the community airplane. Renegade’s developers are also planning to build a garage to house a fire engine, an asset that’s being added to appease the Alpine Fire Department, which had worries about its ability to respond to incidents 25 miles down a slow-going road.
Renegade caps the home sizes at 7,000 square feet and two stories, although outbuildings and airplane hangars will be allowed on six of the lots. Lot sizes range from 0.73 to 7.56 acres and are listed at between $2.9 million and $4.9 million, not including structures. The prices, Woodward said, are among the highest Star Valley has ever seen for homesites, though if the developers reduce the rates somewhat the costs would about be on par with lots at the Alpine Airpark, another fly-in community.
Hunt was skeptical that the lots would sell, at least if the clientele is expected to be western Wyoming locals.
“Who the hell around here can afford that?” he said. “You guys up in Jackson are used to having money, but that’s not what we have down here in Afton.”
Editor's note: This story has been modified to clarify that Kip Wilkes' lot is not formally part of the Renegade Subdivision.