‘Gateway to town’: A 360,000-square-foot hotel and condo development?

Jackson residents pushed back against a proposal for what could be the biggest building in the town’s history.
Jackson town council members and about 40 residents gather for a May 6 meeting about Mogul Capital’s proposal for what many have described as a “mega-hotel.” (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

Community members in Jackson came out in opposition earlier this week to what could be the biggest building in the town’s history: a roughly 360,000-square-foot hotel with condos, retail space, restaurants and underground parking. 

The three-story development from Mogul Capital, a real estate group, would be situated at what many described in a Monday night town council meeting as “the gateway to town.” Though plans are still in the preliminary phase, it’s slated to take up almost an entire block, or eleven lots, north of downtown when headed toward Grand Teton National Park. 

Fifteen residents spoke during the May 6 public comment — all in opposition to the project. Many argued it goes against the community’s character or that it could negatively impact the town’s water resources.

Others called for a moratorium on development. 

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That included Michael Stern, who resigned from the town’s design review committee earlier this year because of this exact project and what he calls a “crisis of development.”

“We need to acknowledge the fact that the rules are broken. The rules are not giving us the town we want,” Stern told council members. “We can’t allow projects like this, which is really a tipping point project.” 

In recent years, the town has amended its land development regulations (LDRs) to allow for bigger buildings and incentivize more multifamily workforce units, amid the region’s rampant affordable housing crisis.

But Stern and others see hotel proposals like Mogul’s as unintended consequences. They’re pushing for a pause on development, so the town can reconsider its regulations.

Michael Stern, a former member of the town’s design review committee, speaks at the May 6 town council meeting. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

Julien Haas, who also spoke at the meeting, said he started a petition in recent years that got over 500 signatures to push for a moratorium of this kind.

“We are not currently equipped and ready to support this type of project with the amount of tourists and housing it will be creating,” Haas said. 

But representatives of Mogul Capital said the group is working to house local workers and offset the development’s impact. 

“We have, consistently, I think you can say, shown a very strong desire to be a part of this community and to contribute to this community,” said Brad Wagstaff, the group’s founder.

He added that his company is currently housing about 120 local employees. It’s also behind “The Loop” housing development off South Park Loop Road, which is slated to bring in another 194 units, some reserved for low-income workers. 

Stefan Fodor, the lawyer on the project, urged council members to approve the initial plans.

“I empathize with the discussion in public comment about ‘buildings are too large, we don’t want this.’ Those are good discussions for another day,” Fodor said. “We’re operating under the current LDRs.”

A key part of Mogul’s current proposal involved closing off part of an alleyway to cars, since it bisects the development. Fodor said the goal is to make that space a public “paseo,” or a pedestrian-only walkway.

The proposed layout of Mogul Capital’s development. The alley that could be partially closed serves the entire block bounded by North Cache Street, Mercill Avenue, North Glenwood Avenue and
Perry Street. (Town of Jackson)

 

Representatives of neighboring businesses objected to this part of the proposal, including attorney Mark Sullivan of Cache Creek Motel. He said this would essentially create a dead end alley and pose problems for big trucks trying to turn around.

It’s a matter of public safety,” Sullivan said. “It’s a matter of utility of my client’s property. It’s a matter of really good common sense and planning.”

Still, Fodor told council members, if they deny the plans, Mogul will just come back with alternatives. 

The council ultimately punted a decision to June 3.

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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