Virginian housing development could host local businesses

Officials are narrowing in on plans for housing at the Virginian RV Park, also discussing topics such as parking and affordability.
The $28 million dollar purchase of the Virginian RV Park for new housing comes in part thanks to SPET dollars, approved by voters in the November 2022 election. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

by | Sep 13, 2023 | Housing

At least 150 homes are slated to be added to Jackson’s housing stock. 

Townhomes, apartments and condos are all on the table for the five-acre lot off Snow King Avenue near the Teton County Library — currently home to the Virginian RV Park.

But in a meeting this week, housing director April Norton said developers could choose to designate a portion of the likely four-story building commercial.

“It’s really supposed to be … your barber, your corner store, smaller non-residential uses,” Norton explained to Jackson councilors and Teton County commissioners.


Norton clarified that the housing department doesn’t want big restaurants or retail stores in the space, which the town and county purchased for $28 million to largely house local workers. 

In the draft requirements for developers, nonresidential areas wouldn’t be able to exceed 15% of the site’s total floor area or 15,000 square feet — whichever is less.

But Teton County commissioner Mark Newcomb said he doesn’t want to see any businesses at all, as it could lead to public pushback — a common response when trying to develop anything in the region.

“This is a project that we are moving forward with for housing and even if it’s a small amount of commercial, it could easily be blown out of proportion or misconstrued,” Newcomb said. “I just don’t think we need to create barriers where we don’t need to.”

Mix of affordable, workforce housing

In Monday’s meeting, Norton emphasized the importance of giving developers some flexibility. For example, the current draft requirements say the project can include a mix of for-rent and for-sale units.

It also says the majority of units should be affordable or workforce housing — meaning they’re deed-restricted and insulated from market prices — but gives developers the option to build up to 10% of the units as free-market homes.

Teton County commissioner Wes Gardner pushed back against this.

“A deed-restricted unit is so much more valuable in my mind,” Gardner said. “I’m willing to scrounge to do what it takes to not have [free] market [homes].”

Mayor Hailey Morton Levinson, on the other hand, was supportive of giving developers the option to include some free-market housing in their plans — as it could make the other units more affordable. 

Open spaces, parking

Morton Levinson also pushed for public open spaces in the development.

“I really want it to feel like it’s part of town,” Morton Levinson said.

Norton said this could be challenging, since residents may want roads to be private, with kids running around. 

Parking is another element still being figured out.

In the current requirements, developers are encouraged to put all parking on-site, but some elected officials supported the neighboring Teton County Library lot as another option — even though the library staff have said this could have negative consequences. 

Town and county officials will continue discussing plans for the new development at an Oct. 2 meeting, before letting developers submit applications. 

The project is slated to break ground in the summer of 2025.


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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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