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Rice seeks rezoning for hotel near 5-way

Restaurateur would build 100-room lodge, help town compete with Teton Village for guests.
An artist's rendering of a 100-room hotel complex Joe Rice has proposed for his property at 550 W. Broadway, the former site of the Sagebrush Motel. IMAGE COURTESY OF CTA ARCHITECTS ENGINEERS
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
January 23, 2013

A developer and Jackson restaurateur is asking the town to extend its lodging overlay so he can build a 100-room hotel and restaurant on a Broadway lot.

Joe Rice, owner of Merry Piglets Mexican Cafe, Ignight and Sidewinders Tavern, made the request at a Town Council workshop Tuesday.

“There has always been a hotel there,” Rice said. “We think it fits in with the gateway to town.”

The new project, located at 550 W. Broadway, the former home of the Sagebrush Motel, would be about 50,000 square feet and would overlook Karns Meadow and Flat Creek.

Construction near the five-way intersection would allow visitors to walk downtown and to the Town Square from the hotel, Rice said.

“The only thing holding us back is extending the lodging overlay out,” he said.

The lodging zone allows units to be rented for 30 days or less — permitting hotels. It covers much of north Jackson and extends west as far as the five-way at Broadway and Pearl Ave.

Existing hotels outside the overlay, like the Virginian Lodge, are permitted to remain because they were constructed before the zoning rule was established.

Only one lot – the Staples plaza – sits between the end of the lodging overlay and Rice’s 2.2 acre site.

A change could come soon.

Examining the lodging overlay is the first step in rewriting the town’s land-development regulations.

The town could potentially make a decision on the lodging overlay in April, Town Planner Shawn Hill said at the meeting.

Rice and his partners already have been in talks with some major hotel chains, including Marriott and Hilton. Any connection would be logistical, he said.

“You build what you want but you come under their flag for reservations,” Rice said.

If officials agree to extend the overlay, construction on the proposed hotel could begin by spring 2014.

“If they decide to put us in the hotel overlay, we’re moving,” Rice said.

He bought the property in 2006 and submitted different plans to the town, which included commercial space, residential units, affordable housing and employee housing. The council approved the 38,000-square-foot development, but Rice withdrew the proposal five years ago.

“We decided to pull the plug in the summer of 2008,” he said “The prices in town were just going through the roof.”

Jackson could use some nicer hotels to help compete with Teton Village, Rice said.

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