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With Village Center Demo One Approval Away, Ski Bums Mourn

As local ski bums prepare to mourn, the owners of the legendary Village Center building in the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort base village - the VC - face only one more hurdle before they can demolish the 1960s-vintage structure and build their luxury condo & hotel project. New York-based Northclub LLC will face the Teton Village Architectural Committee on August 20th, which is their only remaining approval as sketch plans for the project, which will include 53,000 square feet over five stories with first and second floor retail and restaurant space, four condos, and a dozen hotel rooms, were approved by Teton County back in 2007. The developers have dropped plans for a car elevator and an elevated walkway from the building to the Jackson Hole tram loading dock next door.

The end of the VC marks a particularly sore spot for hardcore ski culture in America, as it has housed both the offices of homegrown yet internationally famous ski film company Teton Gravity Research and locals' favorite Village Cafe - a ratty bar and snack bar that has sold PBR tallboys through a walkup window for decades, sold rolling papers behind the bar and invented the infamous Gelande Quaffing World Championships, an annual beer drinking games in which participants in ridiculous outfits throw beers across long tables while their teammates attempt spins and flips on the other end before catching and chugging each beer for style points. The Jackson Hole News & Guide says that the Village Cafe "may" find a spot in the new development, and owner Dom Gagliardi remains hopeful, although it's hard to believe the new owners of the $4.5 million building would want to give goggle-tanned and bearded locals an excuse to stop by their new digs.

The impending closure of the original Village Cafe has been a culturally significant enough event for Powder Magazine to dedicate an article to in their August issue. The article, titled "The Endangered Species List: Soul," rues the loss of the VC's place as the anchor of the Jackson Hole ski community, and its revered role as "a welcome embrace of the big mountain ski culture that set Jackson apart from the rest of the world," a role it claims "Greed has happily taken advantage of." In the piece, Teton Gravity Research's Steve Jones describes the notice to vacate they received last fall as "very impersonal." While TGR has since relocated to a building at the bottom of Teton Pass in Wilson, Wildernest Sports, which held the basement retail space, has been hosting a going-out-of-business sale.

· Village Center project one step from approval [Jackson Hole Property Guide]
· The Village Center archives [Curbed Ski]