CLARKSVILLE, IN (January 20, 2023) – This week the News and Tribune posted a story about the newest multi-use development which will be built at the corner of Eastern Boulevard and Interstate 65. Known as ‘The Gateway,’ the project is the brainchild of local real estate development company Form G.
The focus of the News and Tribune story is an open house which is being hosted by Form G in February. Developers with Form G say the purpose of the meeting is to give area residents more information about the project including when construction will begin, what the project entails, and other various project related details. That open house will be held at the St. Anthony’s Church gym on February 2 beginning at 6:00pm.
Since the development was reported by local media outlets, the Town of Clarksville has received various questions about how this project came about. To answer that question, we need to provide a little more background on that property. The site was once home to an old America’s Best Inn hotel, which the Clarksville Police Department will tell you was the location of rampant crime, complaints, and other issues.
“The hotel was a problem, and the call volume was way too heavy,” said Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer. “We are talking about everything from domestic calls to people being shot. When one location dominates the area for police coverage, we have a major problem.”
In hopes of alleviating the problem, the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission (RDC) purchased the property and demolished the hotel in 2019. Chief Palmer says calls for officers to the area have dropped approximately 36% since the hotel was demolished.
As we all know, nothing is free. It cost the RDC $4.8 million to purchase the property, plus an additional $189,471 to demolish the hotel. There were additional costs with the removal of the hotel including site fencing and asbestos removal. In total, the RDC spent just over $5 million to remove the hotel and the related crime issues.
The Clarksville Redevelopment Commission, Economic Development Director, and other Town staff have been working since the property was purchased in 2019 to find a party interested in developing the land. This includes putting out two RFPs (requests for proposals from developers) and listing the property on multiple commercial real estate websites. Although several options were pursued by the Town, no realistic options were available which made financial sense for the Town and the developer. Adding to the problem is that the property has provided no tax revenue to the Town as long as it has sat empty; funds which are badly needed to help the Town operate and provide services to residents.
During the RDC’s last request for proposals, Form G submitted a proposal for the Gateway Multi-Use Development. The project is a mixed-use development consisting of retail, multi-family and owner-occupied townhome units. The multi-family building is proposed to have 3-story, 4-story and 5-story segments comprising of approximately 200 class “a” units. The 2-story townhome units are proposed to have two and three bedrooms, all with two car garages. The project will have onsite amenities including a clubhouse, pool, workout facility, and a small dog park.
“While some RDC commissioners would have preferred to have seen an office building or recreational center, the size of available land hindered the required parking for such an endeavor,” said Clarksville Town Councilman and former RDC Chairman A.D. Stonecipher. “I recognize that many residents are nervous about additional apartment developments affecting their quality of life, especially given the history of the town’s lack of code enforcement prior to 2015. They should know that their local government is addressing those concerns with additional inspectors and the new Rental Inspection Program. They should also consider the economic backdrop of today’s developments: We cannot dictate to the free market what will make economic sense. Nor can we afford to subsidize grand visions with taxpayers’ cash, amidst rising prices for land and materials.”
With the sale of the property to Form G and the development of the new mixed-use development, the RDC will not only recoup the nearly $6 million investment into the property, but it will also reap an additional $2.2 million in TIF (Tax Increment Financing) dollars. Those are funds which can be used to fund other projects such as new infrastructure, the possibility of a new police substation, and many other options to improve our community. When you include sanitary sewer and permit fees that number jumps to $3.2 million. These numbers do not include the various local income taxes that residents of the complex will provide to the Town of Clarksville.
Although Councilman Stonecipher no longer serves on the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission, he believes the decision to move forward with the Gateway project makes the most sense for Clarksville.
“The answer to reasonable growth lies in some form of mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods, that are self-contained and self-sustaining. These are proposed by the award-winning, Catapult Central Clarksville (3C) Master Plan, which envisions a balance of new homes, townhouses, and apartments,” said Stonecipher. “I believe this ‘Gateway Project’ can begin to deliver on that fifty-year vision.”
Construction of the new Gateway development is expected to begin in early March 2023.