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Bridger-Teton still set to sell land

By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily
September 26, 2013

The prospective buyer of 10 acres of Bridger-Teton National Forest property on North Cache Street is one step closer to acquiring the much-debated parcel of land.

Jerry Johnson, who owns the 7-acre Rustic Inn hotel property across the street, made an undisclosed payment on the $11.5 million property by the time a deadline rolled around Tuesday, Bridger-Teton officials said.

“We have earnest money held in escrow,” said U.S. Forest Service regional spokeswoman Erin O’Connor. “The contract’s set to close Nov. 1.”

Rumors swirled Tuesday that Johnson failed to come up with the money, that he had requested a six-month extension that was denied and that the contract was void.

That’s pure malarkey, said Jay Kornoff, a Sotheby’s International Realty agent involved in listing the Forest Service property.

“The news of the contract’s death is not correct,” Kornoff said.

“I don’t know who has loose lips, but it’s not coming from Sotheby’s,” he said. “Those are details of the contract that nobody should be talking about.”

The precise amount Johnson put down on the 10 acres of federal land, which the Forest Service has considered selling for nearly a decade, is not being disclosed.

“I really don’t know how much they ended up agreeing on and how much they put down,” Bridger-Teton spokeswoman Mary Cernicek said.

Johnson, who has never granted an interview with the Jackson Hole News&Guide on the sale, has a history of buying, selling and developing hotels in Jackson. He operated the Best Western in Teton Village before selling it in 2007. The 180-room Rustic is valued at $10.52 million.

Until Tuesday, it would have cost Johnson $100,000 to back out of the deal with the Forest Service. That penalty is now significantly more.

It’s not entirely clear what other hurdles remain for Johnson before the Nov. 1 closing date.

If a much larger offer for the property came in, the Bridger-Teton could still back out of the deal, Cernicek said.

“I think we can still entertain other sales,” the spokeswoman said. “That’s something that might be of interest to the public.”

Kornoff declined to discuss what’s in store for Johnson in the time between now and the closing date.

“I don’t wish to talk about the details or the deadlines in the contract,” he said.

“All the parties involved continue to work with perseverance, diligence and in good faith,” he said, “and we’re just optimistic that we’re going to get to the closing table, but we’re not there yet.”

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