A 100% deed-restricted housing project is in the works on the block south of Snake River Brewing on Hansen Avenue, and the goal is to get the ball rolling near the end of the year.
“It’s sort of this tremendous unicorn opportunity. It’s very rare that something like this happens,” said April Norton, director of the Jackson/Teton County Housing Department. “It’s a great opportunity for us to partner with a philanthropic partner. It’s also a great opportunity for us to create really quality, durable affordable housing that can be a model for other projects.”
The all-apartment rental project, still in early stages, is tentatively dubbed the Red House Apartments.
It’s been in the works since at least 2017, when it first appeared on the Housing Supply Plan. It jumped from four to 10 lots as the Cumming Family Foundation came on board. Ian Cumming, a financier who moved to Jackson Hole in the ’90s, owned Park City and Snowbird resorts and was a major donor to the Utah Democratic Party, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. He was working on the project before he died in 2018.
His family has since picked up the mantle.
Cumming “recognized the need for housing within the community all along,” said Patrick Egbert, who manages the family’s real estate and will be working on the Red House project. “His wife and his two sons wanted to see their vision, his vision, come to fruition.”
The Cumming family owns the six lots on the northern part of the block south of the brewpub, and Teton County owns four on the southwest side of the same block.
The idea is to combine all 10 lots into one development that could see between 60 and 90 apartments built.
All of those would be deed restricted. Three quarters of those restrictions would be affordable deed restrictions, tools that set aside housing for local workers based on income and usually serve lower income populations. The rest would be workforce deed restrictions, which reserve without income requirements housing for local workers who make over 75% of their income at a local business.
The family could develop the six northern lots into a three-story short-term rental project like a hotel or high-end condos. The lots are in the lodging overlay. But that’s not the direction they’re taking.
“It’s their way to give back to the community,” Egbert said of the Cumming family. “They want to be focused on impact investing, and they recognize that housing will make a larger impact.”
The next step is to ask the Teton County Board of County Commissioners to transfer the four lots to the foundation, which will be the developer. The county will in return receive 15 rights of first rental for its employees.
If the county is on board when presented the opportunity in December or early January, the Cumming Family Foundation will take the project through the town of Jackson’s planning process with support from Norton and Jackson Community Development Director Tyler Sinclair. The aim is to break ground in the fall of 2021 and complete construction by the summer of 2023.
Renderings and details about parking, massing and community spaces in the development are forthcoming.
Norton said Egbert confirmed the goal is to pursue the development without requesting variances. Doing so would keep the apartments to three stories.
“It’s the easiest path to get a project built, which is the ultimate benefit to the community,” Egbert said.