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Village Center plan deficient, report says

Planners recommend rejecting building due to employee housing, transportation issues.
By Cara Froedge, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
May 21, 2008

 Teton County’s planning staff is recommending planning commissioners reject plans for a 70,000-square-foot, five-story condo complex that would replace the Village Center building at Teton Village.


The Teton County Planning Commission will host a hearing on that sketch plan proposal and requested variances during a meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in chambers at 200 S. Willow St.

Village Center Development LLC – which is composed of Snow King Resort’s Managing Partner Manuel Lopez, physician Rich Sugden and Real Estate of Jackson Hole President Bob Graham – proposes to develop a 70,395-square-foot hotel with five floors of residential condos, a lounge, restaurant space, retail, a real estate office and employee housing. The condo building would be located at 3275 W. Village Drive, the site of what’s today the Village Center building.

The building currently houses The Village Cafe, Teton Gravity Research, Wilderness Sports and hotel rooms. The aerial tram and Crystal Springs building border this lot.



Community’s undue burden

Some of staff’s main issues with the development proposal include its lack of adequate employee housing and concerns about transportation.

“By not providing adequate employee housing beyond the minimum requirement for this building, the applicant is placing an undue burden on the rest of the community to provide housing for their employees,” planner Hillary Taylor wrote in a May 15 staff report. “The proposal includes high-end residential units that require more staff support than the units that currently exist, generating a need for more staff to maintain this property.”

The developer is responsible for providing housing for 1.65 employees, one-third of which must be on site. The applicant proposes to house 1.25 employees on site with a studio unit and fulfill the rest of the requirement by paying a fee-in-lieu of $6,746.

Yet, that housing requirement may be outdated and could increase along with the fees when the revisions to the Jackson/Teton County Comprehensive Plan are finished.

While Village Center Development is meeting the minimum required in land-development regulations, planning staff wants the developer to include additional units that would “provide meaningful housing for the many employees that will be needed for the day-to-day operations of the businesses to be housed in the building.”

The proposal to house only one employee is disproportionate to the proposal to build 12,000 square feet of commercial space, 38 bedrooms and 18 residential condos, Taylor wrote. The rest of the community would then have to carry that burden, she wrote.



Moose-Wilson Road traffic

Taylor wrote that with minimal employee housing being offered, traffic would be exacerbated on the Moose-Wilson Road. It also would contribute to inflated rental housing prices in town because of an increased demand on the limited rental pool.

Further, Taylor wrote that proposal fails to comply with the comprehensive plan’s transportation goals because it does not provide for pedestrian needs of residents and tourists. A loading bay, vehicular residential access and pedestrian pathway on the south side of the building would be merged when they should remain separate.

“Large trucks will be backing in and out of the area, which would create a hazard for pedestrians,” she wrote.

Moreover, the applicant is required to provide two loading bays but is offering one when the Village’s commercial core already has experienced problems from a lack of loading bays, Taylor wrote.

With a restaurant, which often receives multiple weekly deliveries, and other commercial uses, one bay would not be sufficient, she wrote.

Lopez said the team disagrees with the assessment of the loading bay. There is no other place on the building where the bays could be located other than the south side. Putting them on the front would destroy the sense of arrival.

“If we follow the county’s suggestion, the whole facade of the building facing the parking lot will be a loading dock,” he said. “We just don’t think that is a good thing for the Village.”

The Village Center redevelopment is the second proposal at Teton Village to come under scrutiny by county planners in recent weeks. The county planning commission recommended Terra Development Group’s application for The Little Nell be rejected because of its lack of employee housing. The planning commission is only a recommending body.

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