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March 25, 2010

Master Plan: Retail/Entertainment Assessement

The  Clarksville Strategic Master Plan Retail/Entertainment Assessment 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.

Report of the Retail/Entertainment Assessment Committee

Overview: Targeted and planned development and growth of Retail and Entertainment are vital to Clarksville’s future in terms of quality of life for existing citizens and to attract future industry/business and professionals to our City.   For purposes of this report, “Retail and Entertainment” includes shopping, dining and other entertainment venues.  The three (3) main areas the Committee felt important are as follows:

  1. Targeted, planned retail development such as seen in Hendersonville, TN and Murfreesboro, TN as will be supported by local economic factors and opportunities, focused through a Retail Development Board or Retail Recruiter.
  2. An Event Center located in the best location for traffic and parking to attract more entertainment venues.
  3. Focus on existing festivals and new festivals to provide variety of entertainment events for the community.

The committee’s SWOT analysis produced the following results:


  • The Marina and Liberty Park, slated to open in June 2010.
  • The Rails to Trails Greenway which opened in 2009.
  • A relatively strong and stable employment.
  • The quality and components of downtown development that has occurred since 1999’s tornado.
  • Our leadership status within a large regional economy.
  • Austin Peay State University and its continued growth.
  • Fort Campbell.
  • The location plans of HSC and the momentum generated by that industry.
  • Governor’s Square Mall and surrounding development.
  • The quantity and quality of area hotel rooms, especially those newly added in the last two years.
  • Available land and good infrastructure throughout the county.
  • Development along Ted Crozier Blvd., spurred by the new Gateway Medical Center.
  • The quality and promotion of existing entertainment events like Jazz on the Lawn and Rivers & Spires.
  • AAU tournaments and other local tourism efforts.


  • The city is generally pedestrian “unfriendly.” Specific examples include APSU connections to downtown, Wilma Rudolph, and Fort Campbell Blvd.
  • Quantity and proximity of downtown parking.
  • Quality entertainment venues, i.e., events complex.
  • Poor traffic flow and unnecessary congestion at most major intersections, which are primarily state highways.
  • The “fear factor” of Fort Campbell deployment cycles which generates an unknown risk for potential investors.
  • Lack of promotion of success stories – such as the Clarksville Rafferty’s and Hooters restaurants are top grossing restaurants in those chains.


The committee unanimously felt that the community is at a critical juncture, with its future success and development highly dependent on how well growth is planned and resources are allocated now for key opportunities.

  • Getting back to the basics with a solid community PR effort, focusing on Nashville area developers, major national retail developers and consultants, but also residents of the region who still don’t utilize the amenities that currently exist within the community. Key components should include:
  • Our geography, access and proximity to other major markets.
  • A diverse economy that’s remained stable and growing during national volatility.
  • A diverse demographics make-up that can potentially cater to a variety of retailers (varying demographics within local sub-markets were noted.)
  • A vehicle though with successful local entrepreneurs and businesses can tell their stories (Example: The Clarksville Rafferty’s was the best performing of all the owner’s 20+ locations in 2009.)
  • The establishment of retail incentives for targeted and identified “next level” retail and upper-scale fast food.
  • Create and dedicate resources to a position and oversight board that will focus specifically on retail marketing and recruitment, i.e., a sister organization to the Industrial Development Board, a “Retail Development Board” (RDB)  Funding for marketing materials may already be in place through the Aspire community marketing foundation.
  • Higher end retail in and around Governor’s Square Mall.
  • Development of the old hospital property on Madison Street.
  • Engaging the Clarksville Young Professionals.
  • The ability to cater to different demographics in different neighborhoods (Sango, downtown, Wilma Rudolph, North Clarksville, etc.)
  • Continued RiverWalk development/amphitheatre.
  • Development of a major events venue, attached to a hotel, at the appropriate location, with a regular tenant such as APSU basketball.
  • 2010 Census.
  • Capitalizing on LBL and outdoor recreation-related retail.
  • Abundance of available commercial space.

The following plans are important to Retail/Entertainment opportunities, some of which are already in motion, and some which need to be referred to in continuing development in this area:

  • City of Clarksville Downtown Parking Study 2009
  • City of Clarksville Strategic Plan 2007??Clarksville Center Redevelopment & Urban Renewal Plan 2008
  • Clarksville Marina & Fairgrounds Park Reconstruction 2009
  • Hilldale Revitalization Leadership Clarksville Study Report 2007


  • Allowing retail and entertainment development without having the infrastructure and codes for better planning in place beforehand. We do not need another Wilma Rudolph Blvd.
  • Fort Campbell deployment cycles for certain business types and/or proximity to post.
  • The perceived risk of deployment cycles to all business.
  • The proximity of Nashville.
  • Continued volatility and uncertainty of the national economy.
  • Relying solely on Census data that is in a 4-5 lag-time release cycle to tell our story.

Key Opportunities:

0-3 Year Timeline

  • Establishment of a Retail Development Board (RDB) and staff position, or alternatively, a designated Retail Recruiter position to work with the City, Chamber and local businesses to recruit the type of Retail and Entertainment the citizens of Clarksville desire, and those that will complement and enhance the current offerings.
  • Obtain extensive demographic, retail and retail opportunity data (as can        be prepared by The Shopping Center Group) to help the RDB  and/or Recruiter sell our City.
  • Develop a space analysis for potential retail sites (based on obtained data), and make this data readily available on City/EDC websites.
  • Identify targeted retail entities with input from city leaders and the public and begin a targeted retail recruitment process with public/private focus on recruitment and incentives.
  • Develop a retail incentive package, specifically focusing on types of businesses we do not have and are a good market for (i.e., Cabella’s or Gander Mountain with such proximity to the Land Between the Lakes area).
  • Survey retailers that are not located in Clarksville to determine what factors are keeping them from locating here so such factors can be addressed.
  • Identify the best location for an Event Center which is of vital importance to recruit entertainment to the area.
  • Develop a plan for enhanced downtown parking which would include consideration of moving the downtown bus center to free prime retail property and/or parking.
  • Develop more pedestrian-friendly areas that (1) support existing retail-intensive areas and (2) better link APSU with downtown and the River District.
  • Develop a plan for better traffic flow at congested intersections, particularly those affected by heavy retail traffic.
  • Establish a city grants program for start-up festivals and events.
  • Develop and implement an on-going strategic media relations program throughout the state and region, emphasizing retail, entertainment, tourism and recreation opportunities in Clarksville-Montgomery County.

4-10 Year Timeline

  • Recruit “next level” targeted retail establishments.
  • Implement the proactive master plan for improved traffic flow.
  • Complete construction of an additional downtown parking garage.
  • Complete construction of an events center/hotel complex.
  • Develop a maintenance plan for all initiatives.
  • Develop more parks and venues for sporting events/competition.  These benefit local citizens and also draw from outside the city and help support retail.

10-20 Year Timeline

  • Implement maintenance plan for all initiatives.
  • Continually identify proactive infrastructure and traffic improvements.
  • Continue a proactive master planning process to “stay ahead of the curve”.

Categories of Study:

Transportation and Traffic Considerations:
Traffic is always a concern in already congested areas.  Planned development allows for planned traffic flow versus retail popping up all over major highways as we have on Wilma Rudolph Blvd.  Additionally, taxi service in the City needs to be considered.  Without a consolidated entertainment district, service is sparse outside the Fort Campbell vicinity, and that will become more and more of a problem.
The City must also work with the State to be proactive in developing infrastructure plans.
Infrastructure Issues:  See above regarding planned traffic flow.  Planned parking for future development is also critical.

Economic Development Opportunities (Public and/or Private): There are many opportunities for public/private economic development opportunities.  With a retail board, we envision volunteer members such as Chamber, IDB, etc., comprised of individuals in the commercial real estate area and existing retail developments.  Targeted retail does not need to hurt existing businesses.  City government can work with this board on incentives, infrastructure, etc.  An RDB and/or Retail Recruiter can provide potential retail/entertainment businesses accurate statistical date about our City that may  not be readily available to help address/overcome the concerns and perceived risk associated with Fort Campbell.

Quality of Life Considerations: Clearly continuing development of retail and entertainment venues contribute to the quality of life and livability of our city.  More opportunities to raise the profile of existing festivals and incentivizing new festivals to help enhance local entertainment options, grow tourism and attract bigger corporate dollars are needed.

Support Resources:

The following contain models for a retail development board, and the written materials are attached.  These types or organizations are housed within economic development organizations, city governments, planning commissions, and as stand-alone quasi-governmental entities.

  • Lincoln, CA
  • Loveland, CO
  • Camden, AR
  • Northport, AL
  • New Ulm, MN
  • Memphis, TN
  • Centennial, CO

Additionally, more local to the Middle Tennessee area, committee members interviewed Hendersonville, Tennessee  mayor about the process used to develop the Indian Lake area. Having acknowledged a retail gap, the city and Chamber of Commerce proactively formed a joint venture and hired a consulting firm to identity what types of retail the community wanted. With much public input, a long-range plan was developed that included office, residential, entertainment and retail.  The city’s role was to help facilitate the purchase of the land, more from a public relations standpoint, rather than financial. They also created a tax increment financing, or TIF, district to fund the roads needed for the project, with the developer bonding it as a back-up.  Committee members familiar with the area, having done business in the area also noted that the developer had offered incentives to retail and restaurants that catered to nearby high-end residential markets.  There was a proactive approach to seeking the businesses the community wanted, rather than waiting to see who would approach them.

The Avenues project in Murfreesboro is also a similar development, and it came to fruition from a strategic economic development planning process, Destination Rutherford. The identified top priority from the planning was retail development. Again, the Chamber partners and city, proactively worked to compile a retail inventory, which is online, and identify specific retail establishments. In this case, the city did assist financially with the purchase of the land for the project, and incentives were offered to the developer.  Murfreesboro also had the benefit of the opening of the Embassy Suites/Convention Center nearby that has successfully bolstered the local economy and provided support to the retail developments.  Murfreesboro’s EDC promotes retail and on their website, they list retail developments, inventory and incentives to make that information readily available.

The Retail/Entertainment Assessment Committee was comprised of the following individuals:

  • Chair, Jill Nolan, Partner Batson Nolan attorneys;
  • Michelle Dickerson, Planters Bank;
  • Billy Atkins, Legends Bank;
  • Josh Loy, Young Life;
  • Vicki Wallace, retired Education consultant;
  • Christine Harrison, Floral Expressions;
  • Katie Gambell, Marketing Five Star Radio;
  • Lucy Goad, Court Reporter and Etcetera Clothing;
  • JR Hand, Budweiser.

*Michelle Dickerson took great notes that were the basis for this report.

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