It’s official: Jackson Hole saved the block.
The Jackson Hole Land Trust announced Sunday, during the nonprofit’s annual picnic at the Snake River Ranch, that its campaign succeeded in raising more than $7 million from more than 5,500 individual gifts to preserve a downtown block — home to historic buildings, popular eateries, towering cottonwoods and even a sliver of Cache Creek.
Hundreds of guests seated in white tents under the Tetons applauded and cheered as Jackson Hole Land Trust President Laurie Andrews announced that the community had reached the ambitious goal.
“We said by Aug. 14 we’re going to raise $7 million, and we’re going to get the whole community to show up, and we’re going to pull this together,” Andrews said. “You as a community showed up in an amazing way. We said the community spaces, the green spaces that touch people every single day, are an area we can put our efforts.”
Fundraising challenges, donation boxes at local businesses and a string of community concerts were some of the ways the Land Trust reached the goal. Andrews expressed gratitude for the businesses that collected donations and sponsored various engagement activities, for the organizations that partnered on events requiring endless logistics and nuances, and for every individual who chipped in.
Aug. 14 marks the closing date for the property purchase. That night the Land Trust will cap off the campaign with a celebratory, free summer concert on the lawn at 135 E. Broadway at the block, which is home to Cafe Genevieve, Persephone Bakery and Healthy Being Juicery. The evening will include music by Jackson Mayor Pete Muldoon.
After a pending sale of the block threatened to bulldoze the buildings last year for a hotel, an anonymous family stepped up in April to put the property under contract. Since then, the Land Trust has raised money to “Save the Block” by buying up easements to protect what the community values — the block’s historic buildings and the green space in between.
Under the proposal, each of the three historic cabins will be separated into its own individual lot and placed under a historic preservation easement, a first for the valley. The easements will protect the structures in perpetuity and require their maintenance. The subdivision of the property is under review by the Town of Jackson.
The restaurant operators plan to purchase and steward each cabin property.
The funding will also permanently protect the surrounding green space. The trust plans to purchase conservation easements on the area between Persephone and Healthy Being Juicery, as well as the eastern half of the Deloney-facing land, which encompasses a segment of Cache Creek.
“There was a block in this community that the community said, ‘Wait a second, this is historic, it has green space, and it has character and this matters to us,’ ” Andrews said.
The Jackson Town Council will soon review a proposal to subdivide the block to facilitate the plan. Also, in November voters will decide whether to approve $4.4 million to cover the cost of relocating the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum’s historic cabins from Mercill Avenue to the Genevieve block. The historical society has to find a new home for the cabins and artifacts after losing the Mercill location, where local government officials decided to use the land to build workforce housing.