Save the Block Project gets huge boost from price reduction

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – All along the grassroots fundraising campaign referred to as “Save the Block,” one unanswered question may have been on the minds of donors and potential donors since the beginning: How willing is the owner to sell?

The block, consisting of two lots, has been owned by Gardner Capital Management for more than a decade. It is home to historic structures housing Café Genevieve, Persephone Bakery, and Healthy Being Juicery. More importantly, to many, it represents a physical place where citizens are making a metaphysical stand against overdevelopment.

Principal owner Max Chapman only recently announced plans to sell the property. After running up against zoning issues that quashed a potential sale to hotel investors, Chapman was then approached by the Land Trust with the unique idea of having the block’s cherished characteristics preserved through historic, greenspace, and character easements by the Trust…if the organization could raise the money.

Time is money, as they say, and a closing date of August 14 was set. After all, Chapman is not willing to wait forever but he has made indications he would be a willing participant in the interesting grassroots buyout.

Gardner Capital Management’s vice-president Jeff Golightly has said from the beginning that Chapman was intrigued by the idea and would be more than amenable to seeing the property stay basically the same.

Now comes even more concrete evidence that the seller wants to see this deal go through. Chapman just lowered the asking price by a million dollars.

Stars align

As the anticipated project closing date of August 14 draws near, project partners are thrilled to announce today that the negotiated purchase price was voluntarily reduced by the seller by $1 million.

That piece of encouraging news is joined by other exciting developments.  JHLT hit the $4 Million fundraising milestone by July 4. Buyers for the historical and developable portions of the block including the, JH Historical Society and Museum, have been identified. And the town appears to be on board as well; a rezone application will be heard by the planning commission on July 15.

But to save a million. That’s a big boost to help get to the finish line.

“We are and have always been very supportive of this project,” Chapman said. “So much so that we believe that this reduction in sale price will help lead to the project’s success, and demonstrates our seriousness in wanting this outcome for the community.”

How it just might work

On July 4th, as the Save The Block Superheroes parade float turned into town square, the Jackson Hole Land Trust announced that it hit the fundraising goal of 3,000 total gifts and $4 million by July 4, a number that the organization feels is a critical marker of success and donor commitment to the project at this point in the campaign timeline. With $4 million contributed to the JHLT for the purchase of greenspace and character easements, the Jackson Hole Land Trust says it has approximately $2.5 million left to raise by the project closing date of August 14.

“We have been at a full sprint since we announced this project in mid-April,” said Laurie Andrews, “And we will not stop until we reach the finish line. The 3,000 gifts and $4 million milestone was huge for the project and with that amount of support behind the project in such a brief time, we feel optimistic heading into our last month of fundraising that we will reach our goal.”

An additional progression in the Save the Block project has occurred with the largest development opportunity on the block. The anonymous family who has the property under contract has decided to purchase and hold the northwest corner lot to facilitate a successful closing in August and to provide more time for a less-pressured and more thoughtful planning process for that development.

With the developable square footage being shifted to the northwestern corner of the block, this lot has had significant interest from local developers and real estate agents. The sale of this corner would provide the project with a significant source of funding to help cover total project costs; however, the family prioritizes the ultimate outcome and the overall character of the block over the immediate cash infusion.

“The family is committed to the historic character and landscape of the Genevieve Block and feels the community’s interest is best served by a thoughtful development in the northwest corner,” explained Robbin Levy Mommsen, the representative of Café G LLC. “There are many moving pieces to this transaction, and given the short timeline, the family decided that this piece of the puzzle should not be rushed.”

The fundraising and community engagement portion of the campaign has been one of the most successful and dynamic displays of support that JHLT has ever seen. With three challenge campaigns successfully completed—one for $100,000 in April; Million Dollar May, which challenged JHLT to secure 1,000 gifts in the month of May; and a successful $4 million by the 4th—JHLT has raised over $4 million and is well on its way to raising the remaining funds needed for JHLT’s portion of the purchase.

With over 3,200 gifts received for the campaign thus far, JHLT is continuing to engage the community through hosted events on the greenspace, including the summer concert series sponsored by Bank of Jackson Hole, and is prioritizing meeting with donors and community members who feel that protecting the block is a priority for our town.

“Hearing the stories and comments about why the block means so much to members of and visitors to this community has been one of the most inspiring parts of this campaign,” said Jason Snider, JHLT Board Chair. “The connection that people feel to this place and the empowerment that happens to a community when they feel like they can actually make a difference and affect the end result is a shift in mindset for this town right now. We are unbelievably grateful to be a part of that.”

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