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Planners OK Walgreens

By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole Daily
November 26, 2012

A Walgreens proposed for a prominent lot on Jackson’s main street won a big approval Wednesday.

After some doubts were raised, the Jackson Planning Commission gave the OK for the store at the northwest corner of West Broadway and Budge Drive. The spot is opposite Rocky Mountain Bank.

During an October hearing, the Jackson Design Review Board criticized the look of the building, calling it out of line with the character of the town.

Letter-writers blasted the plan as an intrusion of the bland and corporate into Jackson.

Planning commissioners worried whether the project fits the new comprehensive land-use plan’s vision for that part of town.

The plan allows for tall, mixed-use buildings along West Broadway. The proposed 13,000-square-foot Walgreens would be only one story, and would be accompanied by a three-unit employee housing building.

Some members of the commission said they would like to see the employee housing built as a second story above Walgreens.

“This area was targeted for multi-use buildings that are multi-storied, and that’s not what we’re getting,” commissioner John Stennis said. “I feel like integrating the residential component into the building makes it a stronger project.”

Developers working on the Walgreens said it will have a mix of uses, and that the neighborhood already has a mix of businesses.

“We have a wide variety of uses in this community and we’re continuing to expand on that,” said Arne Jorgensen of Hawtin Jorgensen Architects. Jorgensen was representing Bencor Inc., developers of the property.

He pointed to the nearby restaurants, banks and hotels.

And the Walgreens would be more than just a pharmacy, he said. It would have a health clinic, provide photo printing services and sell many non-pharmaceutical products, such as clothes.

A two-story building would make the project too expensive, Jorgensen said.

Commissioners said a taller building also would partly block the view of the scarred cliff at the back of the property.

Developers are seeking a variance to allow the Walgreens to come within 10 feet of Broadway, rather than 20 feet required by the rules, in an effort to better block the cliff.

“One of the advantages of moving the building forward is screening the cliff from view,” Jorgensen said.

A resident on the butte above the property supported the project.

“From the standpoint of a neighbor whose been up there for years looking down at this space, I’m in favor of it,” Harry Statter said.

Jorgensen said the developers are working to incorporate public art into the site.

Commissioners unanimously voted to recommend the final development plan of the project, as well as the setback variance.

The project will face the Jackson Town Council for final approval.

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