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March 25, 2010

Master Plan: Housing Assessment

The Clarksville Strategic Master Plan Housing Committee has submitted the following assessment to the city for review and debate. Clarksville is currently accumulating data and input from individuals, business representatives and civic leaders prior to creating a new development plan for the city.

Housing Assessment Sub-committee Report

Chairman: Brad A. Martin, III

Housing not only provides human shelter, but is perhaps the most fundamental quality of life element for any community.  The current state of Housing in Clarksville, TN, including its recent trends and projected growth patterns is one of the most influential definers and shapers of our community’s physical boundary that exists.  With our current housing trends of the past 25 years stretching further and further away from our original city center, the increased need for utilities, roads, commercial build up, schools, police/medical/emergency support, etc. and the maintenance of such has become a major priority for our city government.  The conflicting concepts of perpetuation of these growth trends vs. the potential for a reversal of outward growth turned inward toward our more urban areas give great cause for “Housing” to be a primary study area for the overall Clarksville Strategic Masterplan.  It is important to note that this dichotomy may seem like a unique concern, it is quite common throughout the United States.  Clarksville is not unique in this area, which give more reason for workable solutions to potentially arise from the study.

The Housing Committee is comprised of a select group of members who represent multiple housing categories or directions within the city, including at least one representative from each of the following disciplines or trades:
The Board of Realtors, the Home Builders Association, the Housing Authority, the Planning Commission, the City Community Housing and Development Council, home builders doing business in the outer reaches of town, home builders doing business within the city center, Residential Mortgage Lending, the School System and the local Architectural community.

Members of the committee include:

  • Brad Martin – (Chairman) Lyle Cook Martin Architects?Nelson Boehms – F&M Bank / Mortgage Lender
  • Keith Lampkin – Community Housing and Development Director/City of Clarksville
  • Wanda Mills – Housing Authority Director
  • Jeff Robinson – NAI Clarksville/Residential and Commercial Developer
  • Karen Blick – Home Builders Association Director?Jim Maynard – Home Builder
  • Rex Hawkins – Home Builder?Michelle Newell – Montgomery County School System
  • Audrea Harris – Regional Planning Commission
  • Norma Gann – President Clarksville Realtors Association

SWOT Analysis

In an effort to spark interest, and seek feedback from committee members and the public at large, an internet based “Participant Questionnaire” was produced and sent to all committee members.  Each member was asked to fill out the questionnaire and forward it to at least five additional participants in an effort to capture a wide spectrum of Clarksvillian’s understandings of housing and their opinions of current conditions and future potentials.  Results of the questionnaire vary greatly.  This data served as the basis for the Housing committee’s initial discussions and SWOT analysis.


  1. Clarksville has issued, on average, 1000 new residential building permits over that last 10 years.
  2. There is an estimated increase in the single family resident population of approximately 2600 people per year.
  3. These above numbers do not track multi-family residential units, therefore, the overall numbers are greater than listed per number 1 and 2 above.
  4. The home building industry is one of if not the most powerful employer bases in Clarksville.
  5. Our downtown is starting to experience a rebirth in new residential units, mainly in the form of multi-family buildings.
  6. Our average home cost is less than the national average….this could also be looked at as a weakness???
  7. Cluster Housing, which takes smaller footprint than the traditional single family estate type lot is becoming more popular and acceptable as long as the price levels are not too high.
  8. Cluster Housing is more advantageous to build in tight irregular urban infill areas.  This idea fosters rebirth to our down town area.
  9. Our Public Housing areas have high occupancy rates.
  10. Our Public Housing authority is in the process of formulating a Strategic Analysis of its SWOT characteristics that may lead to future potentials.
  11. Lincoln Holmes has a nationally recognized Resident Council organization.
  12. Although there are not numerous neighborhood parks, there do exist several noteworthy examples such as Coy Lacy Park, Valley Brook Park, etc.
  13. There currently exists zoning acceptance for more creative mixed use development with residential construction as a primary percentage of the mix.
  14. Affordable initiatives are starting to appear…..very early stages.
  15. The School System currently welcomes connectivity with adjacent residential development which should result in walkability between neighborhoods and schools.


  1. There is not a large inventory of affordable housing in Clarksville.
  2. Public Housing is not perceived as being positive.
  3. Public Housing is perceived as fostering crime.
  4. Clarksville is severely lacking in terms of true “Community”.  This question was answered with a NO by almost every questionnaire participant.  There are numerous neighborhoods, but very few of our neighborhoods offer central focal areas that promote positive fun pedestrian interaction……just name one!  We have allowed the automobile, like most of the country, to rule our way of life and alienate us from our neighbors.  Most of us live in a neighborhood, but few of us live in a Community.
  5. Most questionnaire participants stated that they do not know all their neighbors within a ½ mile radius.
  6. There is a perception that our newer school complexes intentionally build very far out in the county pulling residential growth with it.  The School system showed data illustrating that new school complexes are actually reacting to current residential build up by acquiring property in areas with the highest projected growth.
  7. There are not enough parks in neighborhoods.
  8. There are not enough sidewalks for walking, jogging and bike riding in any area of our city…..this is a dangerous quality of life issue.
  9. There are not enough differing housing type options in Clarksville.
  10. Urban Sprawl primarily due to housing developments reaching out far distances in all directions is a main reason for congested traffic throughout the city.


  1. Downtown Residential development in the form of new infill in irregular or underutilized areas has already begun to appear.  This is a great opportunity to provide housing within our historic urban core, near the Cumberland River and the Riverwalk/Marina, the downtown arts district, etc. in an effort to prompt new retail/commercial rebirth in the area.
  2. With the early Cluster Housing trend beginning, this smaller footprint use of land can gain favor with the public and build momentum toward more density.
  3. Our Public Housing authority is in the process of formulating a Strategic Analysis of its SWOT characteristics that should lead to future potential developments.
  4. The School System is agreeable to partnering concepts in terms of land use where residential developers could dedicate acreage within an overall new neighborhood for school construction.
  5. The Planning Commission currently is enforcing percentages of new developments to include “Green” space.  This can lead to well developed neighborhood parks and pocket parks throughout out city.
  6. New and reinvented residential projects could be designed as mixed use developments to create public interaction.  The design and layout of these type developments should create public centers promoting the sense of community and local connectivity.
  7. Existing “Cross Roads” within our town could be targeted as redevelopment districts for the creation of public micro centers with residential build-up surrounding.
  8. A vast system of walking, jogging and bicycling paths should be explored connecting as many areas of town as possible in an effort to promote safe pedestrian exercise and interaction without the fear of danger from the automobile.  These path systems should connect all residential neighborhoods.
  9. There exists great opportunities for New Urbanist/Mixed Use/live-work-play developments within our city.  If it can be done in a corn field in Pleasant View, it can work in Clarksville.
  10. There exists a need for affordable housing for the aging population.  This is a great opportunity for both Public Housing and private development as well.


  1. Lack of financial incentives for private residential investment in the downtown district.
  2. The threat of financial risk for private residential investors to develop in the downtown district.
  3. Public opinion may not support downtown residential development.
  4. Current farm land development will eventually take all of our open agricultural zones.
  5. Further residential build up in the N/E quadrant will worsen already bad traffic problems.
  6. The never ending threat of Fort Campbell deployment causing the housing market to crash over night.
  7. During good economic periods, the tendency to build up the new housing unit count too quickly.  This often leads to improper hasty neighborhood design, lower price point units and eventually a saturated market.

Facts worth noting that were looked at as positive by some committee members and negative by others:
Exit 1 is has been the strongest residential development area for new homes for the last 15 years.
From the School Board’s data, 30% of our residential density is in the Exit 1 (N/E) quadrant.
Committee discussion occurred concerning residential development in the city center with the question being whether or not residential development should occur first or commercial/retail/entertainment development should occur first in an effort to create a strong downtown living environment????

Key Opportunities and/or Initiatives in the Housing Area
Final recommendations for short range, mid range and long range plans are still in the discussion and mapping stage.  Following one more committee meeting, this portion of the committee’s work will be presented.  It is important to note that Housing in Clarksville (past, current and future) is a topic that would carry its own stand alone Masterplan status.

Cumberland Region Tomorrow – Quality Growth Toolbox
The housing chapter entitled “Creating a Variety of Housing Choices” is an essential read for anyone studying the housing market in our region and especially for anyone trying to learn about the multitude of housing type options that are possible.  This is a well written document that sights examples from different areas of the country as well as our region and even…….Clarksville.  This document is included in our Housing Committee presentation for these reasons.  In fact, Clarksville should incorporate this into any considerations that come about pertaining to new residential development springing forth from this study.

Documents to be submitted that are not yet complete:

  • Tabulation of all Participant Questionnaires
  • Growth Pattern Maps
  • School Location Maps
  • Targeted New Housing Area Map
  • Targeted New Urban Infill Map
  • Targeted “Community Crossroad Centers” Map
  • Examples of Quality Housing developments

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