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We Saved the Block!

The Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT) is excited to announce today that the Save the Block partners, including the JHLT and Cafe G LLC, have closed on the real estate deal that will permanently protect the historic buildings, community greenspace, and unique local character of the Genevieve Block located at 130 East Broadway.

The Save the Block project was announced in April 2019, inspired by the community’s rallying cry against the proposed three-story, 90,000-square-foot hotel that the property was under contract to be. Several organizations and many community members approached the JHLT in late 2018 to inquire about a potential role that the organization could play in creating and funding a community solution that would protect the historic and greenspace components of the block, forever. Recognizing the significance the greenspace on the block held for the community, the JHLT began to look for partners that could play a role in protecting the community priorities held by the other parcels on the block.
In January 2019, the contract between the property seller, entities owned by Max Chapman and John Tozzi, and the proposed hotel expired. It was at that point that a local family, in partnership with the JHLT, entered into a new contract with the intent to safeguard the block from development while buying the community time to develop and raise funds for a preservation solution.

“The Block presented a rare opportunity to preserve a parcel that encapsulates all we love about Jackson: a melding of personality and resilience, a hub for socializing and sustenance, a place at once familiar and inspiring. As a family, we feel honored to have joined with such a dream team of doers, which essentially became the entire community. We hoped this plan would resonate widely, and yet we never imagined such an outpouring of support,” noted the local anonymous family that stepped up to put the block under contract. The Save the Block partners worked for several months to find a feasible solution that addressed the priorities of the block- historic and character preservation and community-accessible greenspace.

“We had a tight timeline to build community support and to raise the significant funds that were critical to secure the greenspace component of this deal,” explained Laurie Andrews, President of the JHLT. “However, we also had an intricate deal to construct, with many different partners and investors. We needed several months of the six-month contract to determine if this project was even feasible, and once we did, we went to the community with the launch of the Save the Block campaign.”

The first milestone of the Save the Block campaign was at the neighborhood meeting for the partial rezone of the block on April 26. The JHLT presented the community with the first in a series of donor challenges- to receive 100 gifts in one day to secure a $100K challenge gift. The second challenge became Million Dollar May in which an anonymous family challenged the community to provide 1,000 gifts of any size in May for a $1 Million contribution. At the end of May, the JHLT had over 1,500 gifts and had raised more than $2.4 Million, prompting the next community challenge to reach $4 Million by the 4th of July. The success of that challenge, announced as the JHLT float in the Fourth of July Parade entered Jackson’s Town Square, was a fundraising milestone that made the project a realistic possibility. With just over one month to complete the fundraising, the JHLT launched the “Last Chance, Last Challenge” in which they asked the community to bring the total number of campaign gifts to 5,000 and reach the $7 Million fundraising goal by August 9th.

“The concept of a number of gifts challenge vs. a dollar-for-dollar challenge was very appealing to us,” said one of the anonymous $1 Million challenge donors. “Jackson is unique in that our population has a lot of wealth; however, there was also a significant portion of this community that was passionate about this project and wasn’t able to financially commit to a gift at the thousand, or even hundred dollar level. It was such an incredible opportunity to send the message to everyone in Jackson Hole that they could have an impact and to give everyone the feeling that their dollars and their voice made a difference. We were so inspired by the participation and humbled by the success.”

On August 11th at the Jackson Hole Land Trust’s picnic, the organization announced that they met their fundraising goal and secured over $7 million through 5,500 gifts for the Save the Block project. The community celebrated at the fourth community concert on the greenspace on August 14th wearing special edition “I Saved the Block” hats and toasting with champagne.

“‘This project makes me incredibly proud to be a member of this community and a part of this organization,” toasted Pete Lawton, JHLT Board Member and President of the Bank of Jackson Hole. “It isn’t often that there is something that brings us together, that unites us despite our differences, but this project has brought us to common ground as a community. We’ll now have this common ground under our feet forever, thanks to the work of the Save the Block project and partners.”

On Friday, August 16, 2019, the project hit another major milestone with the closing of the purchase of the block by the anonymous family and the recording of the greenspace easement held by the Jackson Hole Land Trust on a portion of the block. Upon the transfer and easing of the land, both the history and future of the block were protected.

“This has been an interesting journey for us as landowners and as members of the community,” said Max Chapman, the previous owner of the historic block. “Once we knew that there was a level of commitment from the family and from the Jackson Hole Land Trust, we were hopeful that we could arrive at an agreement that would work for both sides. As owners of the property for over 10 years, who as recently as a year ago tried to protect historic buildings through deed restrictions, we are glad to see that the historic buildings and community greenspace will continue to exist here on the block for generations to come.”

While the sale of the block and the recorded easements are a significant step towards project completion, there are several major components of the Save the Block project that is still in progress. The Town of Jackson will need to approve the final reading of the rezone application for a portion of the block to be zoned to Downtown Core (DC) from Urban Commercial (UC). The Save the Block partners will also be working with the Town of Jackson to create a final plat and development plan for the block, which includes the parceling out of each lot so that they can be sold to individual investors. Upon plat approval, each of the business operators in the historical buildings, Cafe Genevieve, Persephone Bakery, and the Hole Being Juicery, plan to purchase their buildings, which are physically protected through deed restrictions and will be protected with historic facade easements.

The Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum (JHHSM) is in line to purchase the southeast corner of the block to be a permanent home for their campus. JHHSM is on the SPET ballot for public funds to enable the purchase of this lot and is also working to supplement SPET money through a private fundraising campaign that will facilitate the relocation of the JHHSM’s current buildings and the construction of a new museum on the block.

“This spot is absolutely perfect for our museum campus,” said Morgan Jaouen, Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum. “A permanent location will help our organization thrive and grow. Being in such a central and activated space that is already home to an important part of Jackson’s history will create relevance for our work that we haven’t yet experienced.”

The anonymous family who provided the opportunity for this community to Save the Block will hold the northwestern corner of the lot with the intention of spending time to find a future partner that will create a thoughtful space that compliments and reflects the many wonderful attributes of the block.