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Future Neighborhood at 90 Virginian Lane
Housing Authority Under Contract to Purchase Virginian RV Park
April 25, 2023 – The Teton County Board of County Commissioners, Jackson Town Council, and Jackson/Teton County Housing Authority are excited to announce that the Housing Authority is under contract to acquire the land beneath the Virginian Recreational Vehicle (RV) Park for a future affordable workforce housing development. Waterton, a national real estate investor based in Chicago and Orion, a developer based locally in Jackson, bought the iconic hotel and adjacent RV Park in August 2020.
The Housing Authority has agreed to purchase the 5-acre parcel of land adjacent to the hotel, currently occupied by a 100-stall RV Park, to help ensure that community members and people in our local workforce can make their home here in Jackson. Now, about 40% of local employees commute to work. In addition, one-quarter of Town Police, School District Staff, and Fire/EMS employees and more than half of all Sheriff and Lower Valley Energy employees commute from outside the County to work daily. Developing more opportunities for local people to live locally is critical to maintaining a lights-on community.
Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson says, “This is an ideal property for community housing. Its location directly in the center of town will provide easy access to food, transportation, and other amenities. Considering our Comp Plan’s goal to continue making Town the Heart of the Region and create complete neighborhoods, the Town is thrilled to acquire this land to build more housing for our community.”
Teton County Board of County Commissioners Chair Luther Propst adds, “The Virginian RV Park is an ideal location for affordable workforce housing. At just over 5 acres, the parcel is large enough to provide housing at a scale that is meaningful to mitigating our local housing crisis. With Housing Authority ownership, we have an opportunity to create a partnership to provide 100% deed restricted housing for first responders, critical service providers, and other members of the local workforce. What a great use of SPET housing funds. Kudos to everyone who has made this happen”
The Jackson / Teton County Housing Authority will utilize Housing Supply funds to purchase the land. These funds include mitigation fees from private developers, General Fund contributions from the Town and County, and recently approved Specific Purpose Excise Tax funds, knowing that our community voted for more housing projects as recently as November of 2022. Town and County leaders will collaborate on a community-focused vision for the site before releasing a Request for Proposals for development partners. This new neighborhood will go a long way toward achieving the need for 2,000 deed restricted homes in the next five years to meet the current and future needs for housing our workforce locally.
“We are pleased to have worked alongside the Town, County and their staff to enter into this contract for affordable housing for our valley,” said Ted Staryk, a partner in the Virginian Lodge. “The zoning on this property, the surrounding amenities such as the library and pathways, and its proximity to START make this the perfect location for future community housing.”
Frequently Asked Questions
How are you going to pay for this?
Teton County and the Town of Jackson will use Housing Supply funds to purchase this property. These funds include mitigation fees from private developers, General Fund contributions from each jurisdiction, and Specific Purpose Excise Tax funds collected as a County-wide sales tax.
Will you have to borrow money to pay for it since you have yet to collect all the SPET funds?
We will either bond for the balance or the County will prepare an inter-fund loan from existing capital.
Will this parcel have to be upzoned or changed in zoning?
No, the NH-1 zoning already allows the density and building types envisioned for the development. The parcel’s location near a cross-section of transportation, recreation and public amenities make this parcel a great selection. This property checks the boxes for where housing should be built based on our Comprehensive Plan, community goals, and quality of life for residents.
How many homes are you building here?
We will go through a community planning process for the entire site. The NH-1 zoning is the highest by-right residential zoning in Town. While the base zoning and Workforce Housing Floor Area Bonus tool would allow between 150-250 homes, we must collect community feedback before assigning a fixed number of homes to this new neighborhood.
What will the affordability of the homes be?
We will go through a community planning process for the site. While we have not determined the exact affordability, we anticipate a mix of income-restricted (Affordable) and Workforce (occupancy-restricted to local workers) homes.
Will these units be ownership or rentals?
We see a mix of both being applicable in this project. The community process and input will determine how to structure these homes with maximum benefit to people needing affordable, stable housing.
Is this purchase the best decision? Why not focus on Northern South Park after years of work?
We do not see these two initiatives as an either-or scenario and should not be categorized as one. Instead, our affordable workforce housing needs require a robust response from public, public/private, nonprofit and private solutions working together to create homes within a wide spectrum of opportunity to address diverse needs.
With the Virginian RV Park parcel already zoned NH-1 and surrounded by existing public infrastructure, this lot represents a great opportunity to build housing soon. A strong pipeline of units is essential to meet the demands and needs of housing in our valley. This parcel and Northern South Park both play a role in incentivizing the construction of affordable homes.
The recent Teton County Regional Needs Assessment highlighted data that by 2027 we need an additional 2,000 deed-restricted housing units in Teton County, Wyoming alone, to retain existing community patterns. This data shows that all solutions need to be supported and celebrated regarding affordable housing in Teton County, including Northern South Park and the Virginian RV Park parcel.
What about traffic?
Traffic and transportation issues are always considered when beginning a development. This parcel is directly located by pathways, sidewalks and START Bus connections. While we know neighbors and travelers down Snow King Ave will be concerned, we are confident working with staff and local organizations such as Friends of Pathways and Age Friendly Jackson Hole; we can address issues to improve efficiency, accessibility, and overall user experience.
Is this neighborhood going to serve Town and County employees? Are Virginian employees going to get a first right to these homes?
We are thrilled to be working on this project so soon after our successful ballot initiative. An integral part of the Nov 2022 SPET initiative for community housing was that anyone qualifying as workforce has access to the funded housing regardless of specific workplace. As such, the SPET funding going into this development will strictly and proportionately fund housing local workers without obligation to maintaining a specific workplace. The Town and County may decide to invest separately in the future to reserve some homes to offer as a benefit of employment, outside of the SPET-funded segment of the property. Five homes will be first-right for the Virginian, included as part of the negotiation for this land purchase.
Where will campers go now that you're redeveloping the last in-town campground?
The Virginian RV Park will remain fully operational for the 2023 and 2024 seasons while the community planning process for permanent housing takes place. During the next two years, we will work with our friends at the Chamber and the Travel and Tourism Board to educate visitors on the RV camping opportunities throughout the community and in our national parks.
How long will this project take?
We want to ensure we are using taxpayer money efficiently, and with that goal in mind, we will be working towards breaking ground in late 2024. We hope to have people in homes in 2026 or early 2027.
This parcel is located in close proximity to Flat Creek, an impaired waterway. What steps will you take to ensure this development does not contribute further to the issues facing Flat Creek?
Our community must develop housing while protecting the ecosystem features essential to our wildlife, overall goals, Comp Plan and visitors. Flat Creek is a critical waterway in the Town for wildlife and quality of life. We will work with our excellent Town and County staff, and community organizations such as Teton Conservation District, POW JH and the JH Alliance to ensure that this project enhances, not harms, the Flat Creek Corridor. Similar to improved transportation options on Snow King, incorporation of best practices, upgraded infrastructure, etc. could be a co-benefit as Flat Creek protection is improved via this redevelopment.
Karns Meadow is home to many wildlife, and the Town is discussing plans for its future design. How will this project impact Karns Meadow?
Our incorporated community’s 100-plus-year history shows that we can co-habitate with wildlife and live near our national parks and forests. On a larger scale, locating density in the Town of Jackson benefits wildlife overall and natural resource goals by avoiding sprawl into critical habitat and decreasing commuter traffic from neighboring towns through critical migration corridors.