America's Best Inn 1 (copy)

The Clarksville Redevelopment Commission is in the process of purchasing land where the former America's Best Inn sits, which closed last month due to the sale. Demolition is expected to start by October. 

CLARKSVILLE — Town staff are moving forward with redevelopment of a former hotel property on Eastern Boulevard, though no plans have been announced on what might go there.

The town announced in early July plans to purchase the property at 342 Eastern Boulevard for $4.8 million. America's Best Inn and Suites closed in mid-July after the previous owner, Rivers Edge Investments, gave long-term tenants 30 days to find new housing.

Working through a private Indiana Land Trust, the town closed Aug. 8 on this property, and Aug. 6 on the adjacent property, which was once the site of a gas station. Both of these, and other properties secured through the land trust, will need to be transferred to the Clarksville Redevelopment Authority.

At a recent meeting, the town approved $15,000 to rent fencing for the property, which Clarksville Redevelopment Director Dylan Fisher said will be going up this week. Bids for demolition are expected to go out by the end of the week.

"[It is] probably three weeks to complete the bid process," he said. "Demolition will likely commence no later than the first of October."

Fisher did not say whether or not he or other staff had been in talks with any potential developers, and said it would be 60 to 90 days before anything could be shared as far as development plans for the site.

Redevelopment President A.D. Stonecipher said the land, situated where Interstate 65 meets Eastern Boulevard, has long been sought by Clarksville administrations as a gateway into the community.

"By demolishing that building and connecting that lot with adjacent lots the commission has purchased..., we can partner with a development team to build something that can serve as a welcoming property to the town," he said.

He added that there has been "a lot of speculation as to what that could be."

"Could it be a hotel? Sure. Could it be some kind of sports complex? Sure," he said. "We're open to all kinds of options."

Stonecipher said he wants to make sure whatever goes on the site will be a project that gives the best return on the investment to taxpayers. This could also mean deciding between leasing or selling the land. Once the call to developers goes out — and to any proposals they're approached with before then — staff will vet project ideas, scoring them using a rubric that grades according to things such as how it would affect property values and whether it would net any increase in jobs.

Projects that meet the criteria would then be presented to the Redevelopment Commission for consideration. At this site, projects would not need to be approved by the town council as a final step.

"We'll just have to wait and see and put the call out for developers and allow the staff to number-crunch and see what's best for the town," Stonecipher said.

Redevelopment director Fisher said the land is likely to be developed within one to two years.

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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