The apartments in the Hidden Hollow project are now slated for rent rather than ownership, as originally planned.
Developers of the 168-unit development on Rosecrans, Jackson’s largest since Cottonwood Park was built in the 1980s, argued Monday before the Town Council that rentals are more likely to remain accessible to the workforce than ownership units.
“We’re not trying to force things here; we want to do what’s right for the community,” said Brendan Schulte, senior land use project manager with Jorgensen Engineering. “But we do feel strongly that this proposal is best for the community.”
The Housing Action Plan, a guiding document for the town and county in how to manage local housing supply, states that the most pressing need is rentals for people earning less than 120 percent of the county’s median income.
The update to the Hidden Hollow master plan is seen as a win for the town. April Norton, director of the Jackson/Teton County Affordable Housing Department, said more than 800 people have signed up for housing with the department in the past few months.
But just behind rentals is the need for ownership units. Councilor Jim Stanford said the town recently gained 28 affordable rentals in the Redmond Street Rentals complex, has another 30 on the way on King Street and is likely to see more from private developers.
“I had hopes for this as an ownership model,” Stanford said. “It’s not a bad deal necessarily that we’re being offered. It may turn out to be a good deal. But I still tend to lean toward what’s been approved and agreed upon.”
Councilor Hailey Morton Levinson said she initially felt the same. But after reflecting on the tendency of ownership units to eventually fall into the hands of second home-owners, she decided to support the change.
“When you look at it at the end of the day,” she said, “I think with rentals you’re more likely to have workforce living there.”
Under the original plan, Hidden Hollows would have built 96 market-rate units, and 72 units deed-restricted to meet housing mitigation requirements. Of the 72, 27 would have been affordable income-restricted units, set aside for people in a certain income range, and 45 would have been workforce-restricted, designated for people who work in Jackson.
Now the proportion has shifted to 14 affordable units and 59 workforce units, an increase of one unit overall.
Norton said there is no guarantee the workforce units will remain affordable in the future because they are not regulated to meet the needs of any particular income range.