CLARKSVILLE — The town of Clarksville has earmarked additional property for development as part of a wide-ranging plan to spur economic growth and revitalization in targeted areas.
At its most recent meeting, the Clarksville Town Council approved an ordinance designating underused land at Eastern and Little League boulevards, dubbed Gateway Crossing, as an economic development target area.
This designation means developers may have increased incentives, such as access to abatements, or a gradually decreasing postponement of taxes on the new growth that goes to taxing bodies in the town that collect property taxes, such as the school district.
The spot joins five others approved last April as areas which could benefit from the incentives. At that time, the council approved two ordinances designating areas around the riverfront in Clarksville and Stansifer Avenue as economic development target areas. It also approved three resolutions at that time to move forward with designating parts of town along Progress Way, Ind. 60 and Interstate 65 between Interstate 265 and exit 7 as economic revitalization areas.
Economic revitalization areas focus on commercial and industrial use, while economic development target areas allow additional uses such as commercial, retail and residential.
Though the town had given tax abatements and phase-ins on a case-by-case basis prior to 2018, formally adopting the process allows for certain areas to benefit.
“In 2018, we identified areas where we knew we had interest in development and we knew there were barriers to entry from an economic standpoint,” Clarksville Redevelopment Director Dylan Fisher said.
Though Gateway Crossing is the most recently added economic development target area, it will likely be the first to use the new incentives.
In April, the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission approved a $1.25 million land sale of the roughly five acres at Little League and Eastern boulevards to Form G Companies Land Developers. Though the development plan has yet to pass the plan commission, founder and CEO Eric Goodman said the project — which includes a small retail center, townhomes and an apartment complex — is moving along as expected. The project is expected to go before the plan commission within the next several weeks.
“The project is shaping up nicely and I believe it’s going to be a really good project,” he said.
Goodman said it’s important to him to help with revitalization of the area, where his grandparents owned a home for 65 years and where his children attend school.
“So we spent a lot of time there and we’re noting how the town has made a significant effort to increase the quality of life [along] Eastern Boulevard,” he said. “So we want to be a part of that.”
Goodman said he wasn’t aware the town had plans to designate the area for tax incentives when his company started moving forward with the project, but hopes to take advantage of them.
The way the tax phase-in works is that the property owner pays an increasing percentage of property taxes on assessed value, traditionally over a 10 year period. That means there could be no taxes owed the first year, 10 percent the second, 20 percent the third, and so on, until the full amount is paid by the 10th.
Goodman said he does not plan to apply for the phase-in of taxing for the retail portion of the planned development, but will for the residential portions.
Fisher said that since Clarksville has had historically large retail sections of town, the property values are higher in some spots. An acre along one of the commercial corridors, for instance, could go for between $250,000 to 300,000 per acre, compared to around $50,000 to 70,000 in areas originally created for residences.
But as the town tries to make progress on revitalizing the aging or underused shopping areas and add more residential there, creating incentives such as the economic development target areas is a way to keep costs realistic and stay competitive with other local areas, Fisher said.
“Without those tools, this project isn’t feasible,” he said. “Our biggest issue is that we don’t have pockets of property for future development that are not in our commercial areas.
“We have to begin redeveloping our commercial corridors to accommodate additional residential, commercial and retail opportunities.”
If plans continue as they have, Fisher said he expects ground to be broken at the Gateway Crossing site this summer.