By Mark Huffman
Jackson Hole Daily
Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In most parts of the United States the townhouses at Cottonwood Flats would qualify as expensive, but in Jackson Hole they’re in the middle, the kind of place that’s available for successful working people.

And their sales history proves there’s demand for such housing.

Cottonwood Flats’ first units — nine set aside as affordable and sold by the Teton County Housing Authority — came on the market starting in 2009. Since then the developers have sold all but one of the 46 free-market units that have been offered, said Garth Gillespie, who with his wife, Christy, has the listing on the units.

Cottonwood Flats, at the corner where South Park Loop Road stops being a westbound road and turns abruptly south, has been a big success, Gillespie said this week.

Since the sluggish start on sales during the Great Recession, when some units were briefly rented, every unit has sold quickly.

“It’s been really rapid, they’ve been in demand,” Gillespie said. “If we had more units we would have kept selling them.”

During 2014, he said, units were on the market an average of only 21 days before being snapped up. When a three-bedroom, one-car garage townhouse went on the market last summer it sold “almost instantaneously,” Gillespie said.
The only unit now on the market is a two-bedroom, two-bath townhouse of 1,100 square feet. It has a one-car garage and a wrap-around deck. Washer and dryer are included. It’s advertised at $470,000.

Of the final 11 units planned for the 65-unit development, four are expected to be on the market within a month, Gillespie said. The units are three-bedroom, three-bath townhouses in the 1,600-square-foot range. They have two-car garages.

Though final prices on the next four townhouse haven’t been set, Gillespie predicts they will be advertised in the neighborhood of $600,000. Given past sales, there will be a crush of interest, especially because there’s no advance sales.

“People have given us their names and asked to be notified, but we have been consistent in not preselling, and we don’t take reservations on units,” Gillespie said.

Twenty and 30 years ago professional people shopping for a house might have bought in town, or in the Rafter J or Cottonwood subdivisions when they were developed. More recently, some of the same market has been served by the development of Melody Ranch, farther south.

Years of appreciation and slow turnover in those areas has left a lot less on the market for prospective buyers who aren’t part of the high end. That includes full-time residents or, in some cases, people here part of the year who think Teton Village or the Aspens are out of their reach or who find little to choose from in those locations.

Buyers at Cottonwood Flats “run the full gamut,” Gillespie said.

“We’ve sold units to people who use them part time, summertime only,” Gillespie said, “but we have quite a few families living there, and young professionals — there’s a teacher, a doctor.

“We’re looking at a very diverse group of people.”

A glance by Gillespie at the residential listings in town showed the $400,000 to $800,000 range had only 23 listings this week. Looking at three-bedroom, three-bath units with garages, “you have an inventory of maybe five to 10 properties,” Gillespie said.

That means that “our four new listings will be in demand.”

Besides limited choices on the market, people like that the Cottonwood Flats townhouses are new, Gillespie said.
The buildings are custom-built by Stratford Homes in Idaho, hauled to Jackson and set in place. The work necessary here to make the houses livable is done by JLA Custom Homes. Gillespie said there has been “minimal issues with the properties.”

Townhouse lots are mostly in the 0.6- to 0.9-acre range. Cottonwood Flats covers about 6.3 acres.

The Gillespies work with Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, the Christie’s International Real Estate Associate in Jackson. Both have been in real estate going on 20 years, the majority of their professional lives after college and some time in Vail.