JACKSON HOLE, WYO \u2013 The Jackson Town Council voted unanimously at a special meeting last night to direct staff to move forward on a development agreement with Westmount Development on a workforce housing project at 174 N. King Street. The project will provide rental housing and will include a community benefit space (commercial) on the ground floor. After hearing a brief presentation from each of the three final applicants chosen from an RFP, councilors opted to stick with staff recommendation of Westmount Development Group \u201cgiven the dire need for quality, low-income rental housing,\u201d according to April Norton, director of Jackson\/Teton County Affordable Housing Department. The Housing Supply Board felt the Housing Trust project was priced too high. They split between CaRE and Westmount but did worry about curb appeal of the CaRE proposal as institutional-looking. In the end, Westmount was the only respondent to ensure rental housing serving households earning <45% AMI, which is the community\u2019s biggest need and in-line with the policy direction in both the Comprehensive Plan and the Workforce Housing Action Plan. According to a staff report: \u201cThese households will be in walking distance to the public recreation center, several bus stops, Jackson Elementary School, Children\u2019s Learning Center, and jobs. Grocery stores, the library, schools, and other local convenience may be accessed via the public transit system. It is also the only project that does not require Housing Department staff time for compliance.\u201d Westmount Development Group proposal for 174 N. King How they voted Councilors all expressed satisfaction with the bids received and told the two developers that did not win the contract that their projects were intriguing and could work elsewhere in the town someday. Parking was a hot topic. Every developer said parking drove the project. If one space per bedroom was the requirement, that would look very different from a development designed at .75 or 1.5 spaces per bedroom\/unit. Don Frank, a builder by profession, quizzed each applicant on intricate details of their proposals. With Westmount, he asked company president Rick Ross about his work on the Children\u2019s Learning Center. Westmount\u2019s proposal for 174 N. King will include a similar prefab unit approach. Frank wanted to know what Ross learned doing that job. What went right, what went wrong, and how would he do things differently? Ross was candid, saying an aggressive timeline hurt the project and he would make sure a fulltime contractor \u201clived\u201d onsite for the months the project was being stitched together. \u201cOur hope and prayer is we would see original thinking in this open-ended RFP with regards to both design and financing. Because this lift is so heavy, we need elasticity in thinking, and it is important to be impartial and equitable,\u201d Frank said. \u201cThe Housing Supply Board was unanimous in their recommendation. We should nominate the people we trust and trust the people we nominate. I think we are well-served with giving Westmount a fair crack at this.\u201d Frank also liked the idea of a community benefit space on the ground floor and, while he expressed his support for the Children\u2019s Museum, he added, \u201cwe are also obligated, ethically, to make sure all parties have a chance.\u201d Pete Muldoon said he thought Westmount\u2019s proposal best captured community needs and desires as expressed in guiding documents, and best leveraged the town\u2019s position. \u201cStatistics show the greatest need is for rental serving low income. The free market is clearly unable to provide these,\u201d Muldoon said. Bob Lenz said he leans toward rental projects at this point but cautioned against underparking this and other projects for the sake of achieving urban density. \u201cThe Housing Department has told us over and over again that the lowest AMI is where the demand is, so I am leaning toward the rental project,\u201d Lenz said. And the greatest detriment to density is parking. I understand that. I've heard it for 10 years now.\u201d Lenz added that it was unrealistic to think tenants would be able to access outdoor recreation opportunities using the bus. \u201cIt has to be parked. You make hotels and motels park in the downtown area,\u201d he said. Jim Stanford worried about the pod build approach on town land, saying it was maybe a better fit for private landholders. He called the Housing Trust proposal the \u201csurest bet.\u201d Hailey Morton Levinson admitted the decision was tougher because the RFP was left open to include out-of-the-box ideas and design concepts. For that, she said she was excited by the various proposals. Morton Levinson said rentals were the best leverage of town land, which left out the Housing Trust. She crossed off CaRE because it did not propose to serve \u201cthe most vulnerable segment of the population\u201d Morton Levinson said she was looking to house. The final vote was 5-0 in favor of Westmount.