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May 23, 2012

Charlestown encourages Realtors and developers to help it grow

CHARLESTOWN — The city of Charlestown expects to grow, and it has a vision on how it wants to accomplish that.

The city hosted a showcase for about 200 developers and Realtors at Charlestown High School on Tuesday. The purpose of the showcase was to pitch the city as a place that is expected to prosper, especially in light of the continued development at River Ridge Commerce Center.

“I’ve seen some good times, and some tough times in the city of Charlestown, but never a time with as much hope and promise as we have today,” said Pat Glotzbach, president of New Washington State Bank, who made the opening remarks at the showcase. “We’re here today to try and sell you on Charlestown.”

Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall has long touted one of the goals of his administration is to transition the city into a bedroom community. The vision is to have the town act as a residential subdivision for River Ridge and metro Louisville, while Clarksville serves as the area’s retail center and Jeffersonville serves as the urban and cultural center.

“There’s no doubt the Clark County area is going to grow,” Hall said. “It’s going to grow in the next 15 to 20 years; River Ridge is going to push it. So it’s not a matter of if you’re going to grow, it’s what you’re going to grow into that’s important.”

To support how he wants the city to grow, Hall touted the improvement in Charlestown’s schools, improved ISTEP scores and the implementation of the city’s one-to-one computer initiative as incentives to attract families to Charlestown. In addition, Hall offered statistics on Charlestown based on 2010 census numbers that compared it to other area municipalities, including the average home price — $109,000 — average income — $38,000 — and the number of homes inhabited by the owner-occupants — 68 percent.

However, the city also showed a higher poverty rate, at 22.1 percent, than several area municipalities, and the cost-of-living was $25 higher per month compared to Sellersburg, which reported the area’s lowest annual cost-of-living.

Hall said the community events the city offers, like the movies in the park, the planned recreational community center and its Christmas celebration are things that make up for that disparity.

“You get what you advertise for,” he said. “We spend a lot of time and energy trying to advertise for families.”

He estimated that there is as much as 700 to 800 acres available for development, and five housing developments under way inside the city limits.

“Everybody’s long-term studies show Charlestown as a growth area,” Hall said. “It’s because of the bridge and the proximity to the [former ammunition] plant. We do expect that to continue.”

Schuler Bauer Realtor Barbara Popp agreed with Bob Hall’s assessment.

“Charlestown will be one of the winners, and definitely one of the top winners because of the location, and the amount of homes that are available and the land that’s here that’s being developed,” she said.

Matt Hall, vice president of economic development and interim CEO for One Southern Indiana, said continued development at River Ridge is going to have a significant affect on Charlestown.

“When you look at the short distance between where the new east-end bridge is going to come through ... this is obviously going to be the destination for people,” he said. “They have very affordable housing here. It’s really the recipe for a lot of success in terms of community development.”


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