A community effort to preserve a downtown historic block is facing a critical step: seeking a rezone from the town of Jackson.
The first public hearing on an application to rezone a portion of the Broadway block that is home to Persephone Bakery, Healthy Being Juicery and Cafe Genevieve will be Wednesday evening. The town Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall.
The rezone is being requested by a coalition of community partners, spearheaded by the Jackson Hole Land Trust, working to preserve the block’s character. As part of a broader plan to preserve green space and historic buildings, the coalition is asking the town to rezone the northwest corner of the property. The location is home to Belle Cose At Home, Home Design and Workshop.
The goal is to concentrate development in that northwest, Deloney-facing corner. The rest of the property, with support from public donations, would have conservation and historic easements put in place to protect open space and historic character.
“For the whole block to work, we’ve had to push the development and really make it so that it can be in that northwest corner,” Jackson Hole Land Trust President Laurie Andrews said. “Because of that, this rezone is key. With a $22 million project that corner continues to be pivotal to making certain we can pull all the pieces together.”
The new zone, Downtown Core, would be similar to the existing zone, Urban Commercial, except that it allows for taller buildings, residential use, access to a workforce housing bonus and new pedestrian frontage standards.
It’s the same zoning requested last September, when the property was under contract for sale to become a hotel. At that time, landowner Gardner Capital Management applied to rezone the entire property to Downtown Core. In exchange for a rezone Gardner Capital offered to permanently preserve the Cafe Genevieve building on-site and to move the other two to “meaningful locations.”
But that rezoning proposal and the anticipated redevelopment into a hotel elicited a strong community reaction and push to preserve the block’s character as is. Ultimately, Gardner Capital withdrew the rezoning application after planning staff and town planning commissioners rejected it, hoping to get a better deal on preserving more of the block.
The community outpouring spurred the Jackson Hole Land Trust to lead the current campaign to “Save the Block.”
In April an anonymous family stepped up to put the property under contract, buying time for the community to fund-raise for the easements needed to preserve the green space and historic buildings. The family does not plan to develop or steward the land long term. Rather, the goal is to achieve preservation of what the community cherishes while recouping the costs of the purchase price. The vision is for the cabins’ individual lots to be sold off and protected, with Land Trust raising funds for easements preserving the green space between Persephone and the Juicery.
Town planners are recommending approval of the rezone this time around, because the land under the historic buildings is excluded from the area proposed for a rezone. Planners determined the updated zoning is appropriate for a portion of the block and would match the surrounding area.
The town and county also plan to ask voters to approve a $4.4 million specific purpose excise tax to help the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum potentially relocate to the southeast corner of the block, if the coalition’s plan is a success.
Interested donors can learn about the campaign to raise $8 million by August to preserve the cultural landscape along Broadway at SaveTheBlock.org.