JH Land Trust announces a bold, one-time shot at saving the Genevieve Block

JACKSON HOLE, WYO — A group of local citizens and nonprofit organizations are excited to announce that the Genevieve Block is under contract by Café G, LLC, an entity formed by a local family in January 2019 as the vehicle for a community effort to preserve the property’s community-identified priorities—historic buildings, green space, and community character.

Working in partnership with the Jackson Hole Land Trust (JHLT), Café G, LLC is providing the community with time and an opportunity to realize those priorities. The Genevieve Block is an important part of our town’s history and story. In September 2018, an application was submitted to the Town of Jackson to rezone the entire block, and it was under contract to be sold to a buyer that may have developed it.

The outcome could have been the potential relocation or permanent destruction of historic buildings, green space and large trees, and the loss of community character that the block brings to downtown Jackson. Many in the community expressed great concern at the prospect of this loss and appealed to the Town of Jackson for more time to come up with a solution that would protect the values of the block. Although the original rezone application was ultimately withdrawn, the urgency to find a conservation solution remained.

With the contract closing in August 2019, Café G LLC and JHLT are working quickly to implement a plan that shifts development potential on the block while preserving the components of the property that are considered to be character defining. Along with this plan comes a great need for community support on a very short timeline, from both a funding and engagement perspective.

Representatives from the Land Trust urged, “This contract is a placeholder and will need full financial backing from generous individual donors, philanthropic investors and the community at large before its August closing date.”

Map of parcels encompassing ‘Genevieve Block.’ (Teton County GIS)

The property was once listed for $25 million. According to a website linked to the project, some $7M is needed by August 14 to finalize the deal.

Meanwhile, the owner of the property is saying all the right things.

“We are excited at the prospect of working with a group that has made these community interests a priority,” said Jeff Golightly, vice president of the current owners, Deloney Street LLC. “Many in our community have been very active in stating what they want for this property and now they have the opportunity to step up and make it happen.”

JHLT is helping with the facilitation of conservation possibilities on the Genevieve Block Project and is spearheading a community-wide fundraising effort to place greenspace conservation easements on the land between Persephone Bakery and Healthy Being Juicery & Café and on the northeastern portion of the property. The partnership is also focused on a variety of different historical preservation scenarios for the funding and protection of three historical properties.

“JHLT’s mission is to protect and steward the treasured landscapes of northwest Wyoming. Additionally, our vision is a legacy of protected open spaces, wildlife habitat, working lands, and community spaces across northwest Wyoming that inspire current and future generations,’ said JHLT president Laurie Andrews. “Based on the rallying cry that occurred in December around this block, much of which was centered around the communal green space on the property, it was evident to us that this block is a treasured community space in Jackson Hole.”

While the Genevieve Block project is off to a strong start with capable partners at the helm, there are many hurdles to clear. Aside from the funding need, the proposed plan requires approval from the Town of Jackson to rezone the northern, Deloney-facing side of the block as well as a small lot on the southwest corner. This rezone is essential to the financial feasibility of the project as it allows the development footprint to be reduced in a way that allows the preservation of the priority buildings and green space.

Project representatives are hosting a neighborhood meeting and open house on the property, 135 East Broadway, from 4-7pm on April 26. All interested community members are encouraged to attend and ask questions about the plan, as well as celebrate the opportunity to preserve the Genevieve Block.

Project partners have been working closely with business owners that inhabit the identified historic buildings. Owners of Café Genevieve, Persephone Bakery, and the Healthy Being Juicery & Café have all expressed optimism over the initial plan.

“We have people inquiring everyday about the future of this block,” said Café Genevieve owner Daryl Peightal. “This is a home away from home for some people who spend a significant portion of their week visiting businesses on the block, most of the time with people who are equally as connected to the place. While losing the physical pieces of this block would be upsetting, it would be far worse to lose the spirit of this space that the community has created. We are grateful for and encouraged by this opportunity and are committed to helping in any way possible.”

To make a donation or learn more, visit the website.

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