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Clarksville Officials To Create New Downtown Hub Along Ohio River

Clarksville's new downtown sits directly across the Ohio River from downtown Louisville.
Clarksville's new downtown sits directly across the Ohio River from downtown Louisville.

The first project of the South Clarksville Redevelopment Plan is finished, and town officials say it’s the start of a multiyear effort to bring new life to a former industrial area.

Bolt + Tie is a mixed-used development that offers more than 80 business spaces and 90 apartments along Clarksville’s new Main Street, formerly called Woerner Avenue. It was conceived as an all-purpose hub where people can live, work and shop, said Cory Hoehn, co-president of developer the Cornerstone Group.

“We don't want people to just pass through the area, and we don't want people to just go up to the mall, then leave and go back to their homes,” he said. “We want this to be a community, and Bolt + Tie is the first effort in creating a place where people can be.”

Nic Langford, Clarksville’s redevelopment director, said the town is taking that idea and applying it on a larger scale to create an entirely new downtown. He said the area around Bolt + Tie is a blank slate that will eventually hold up to 900 apartment units and about six new multi-use buildings.

“We're doing all of the analysis and all the framework that we need to do in order to essentially put in a street grid,” he said. “If you've ever played SimCity, it's kind of like that. Block by block, we're going to develop everything down here until we have a brand-new downtown from scratch.”

Town officials adopted a mixed-use zoning update for South Clarksville in 2019. New streets in the grid will be named after people associated with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which was led by Clarksville founder George Rogers Clark’s younger brother, William.

The South Clarksville Redevelopment Plan includes thousands of square feet of new retail space, a new hotel and improvements to 20 acres of green space along the Ohio River. Much of the property sits in the shadow of the former Colgate factory and its iconic clock, which is centered at the end of Main Street.

“When you go to downtown New Albany or downtown Jeffersonville, they already had these things in place, and they have that framework there,” Langford said. “But I think that our end product is going to exceed these historic buildings, because we're not really trapped by what's already existing there… We're going to be able to put in all the new infrastructure, and then we're also going to be able to actually decide what the buildings look like. We're going to be able to have a hand throughout the entire process.”

Clarksville Town Council President Ryan Ramsey said the new downtown will be a defining area for the town. He also hopes its proximity to Louisville will attract new small businesses and residents.

“You can ride your bicycle to work in downtown Louisville,” he said. “I mean, it's right there. Really, it's about walkability, connectivity, quality of life — just a fresh, clean, new, urban environment.”

Earlier this month, Clarksville received an EPA grant that it will use to decontaminate 24 acres of former industrial property where new buildings will be constructed.

John, News Editor for LPM, is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Email John at jboyle@lpm.org.