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March 25, 2010

Master Plan: Urban Design/City Center Assessment

The  Clarksville Strategic Master Plan Urban Design/City Center 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.

Urban Design/City Center Assessment


The Urban Design/City Center committee’s chief challenge was to devise a fresh vision for Clarksville’s core downtown area (map to be included as an annex to this report).  Meeting this challenge entailed giving fair consideration to numerous planning efforts and plans developed over the last twenty years.  Old ideas and recommendations from those plans which have yet to be implemented were considered as well as some of the best practices of cities of similar size affected by similar circumstances as Clarksville.  However, the committee was not absolutely bound by existing plans and was not obliged to implement the practices of other cities.  Rather the committee took a fresh approach to propose ideas and projects that will help to define Clarksville as a unique city with its own unique identity, character,  and appeal.

The committee’s approach was to identify five (5) districts:

  1. City Core District
  2. University District
  3. North Riverside Drive District
  4. South Riverside Drive District
  5. Industrial Re-use District

Within the districts opportunity zones and  multiple activity nodes of concentrated or potentially concentrated activity were identified which helped to refine the unique character of specific areas or points of interest around which development/re-development or revitalization could be fostered.  Each district is characterized by its own unique set of existing or potentially defining characteristics which when developed should result in a revitalized 21st century urban center.

Additionally, the committee identified several landmarks and activity nodes that revitalization and redevelopment plans should consider to include:

  • Ft. Defiance/Ft. Clark;
  • Highpointe;
  • McGregor Park;
  • Millenium Plaza/Courthouse Campus;
  • Smith-Trahern Mansion;
  • Riverview Cemetery;
  • Customs House Museum;
  • The railroad bridge crossing Riverside Drive;
  • Kraft St. and South Pettus St. commercial/light industrial  node;
  • Emerald Hill and the Red River area adjacent to APSU;
  • Marina and Wilma Rudolph Pavilion.

Consideration was also given to the August 2000 Central Improvement District Streetscape Plan and how best to promote a favorable pedestrian experience.  It was the committee’s conclusion that all street widening/improvements  include planted medians, decorative lighting, sidewalks and bike lanes to the maximum extent practical.  The intent is to create an environment that enhances and encourages walking, bike riding and leisurely outdoor activities throughout all opportunity zones.

Committee Members

The Committee is comprised of a diverse group of members who reflect a cross-section of stakeholders from throughout the downtown community.  The members also reflect native Clarksvillians who could interject a historical perspective as well as Neo-Clarksvillians from other areas of the country who could bring their experiences and an objective perspective to the table.  The committee was comprised of:

  • Rudy Johnson – (Co-chairman) Rufus Johnson & Associates?James Halford, Jr. – (Co-chairman)Director of Strategic Planning / Ft. Campbell
  • Bob Houston – Community Activist?Mitch Robinson – Vice President Finance and Administration, APSU ?Sammy Stuard – CEO, F&M Bank?Michael Tharpe – President, TBT Construction
  • Martha Weatherspoon – President, Lincoln Homes Residents Council
  • Josh Wright – Associate, Lyle, Cook, Martin Architects

SWOT Analysis


  • Post-1999 tornado restorative efforts in the downtown central business district provide a good foundation for further revitalization.
  • Each opportunity zone already has some signature characteristics and/or definitive boundaries which will better facilitate incremental development.
  • Stakeholders generally seemed poised and ready to embrace the city center’s revitalization.
  • New multi-family housing is being erected at a fairly brisk pace which appears to be accelerating.
  • APSU is a strong anchor point for city center revitalization and can influence area wide revitalization.


  • The aging infrastructure and overage utility systems could hamper revitalization and redevelopment.
  • The existing road network is not adequate to support increased traffic resulting from revitalization.
  • No real sense of community.  Neighborhoods lack a definable character and are not clearly and easily identifiable.
  • No specific cultural identity.  No true “attractions” to draw people into city center.
  • Inadequate single-family housing
  • Overage and deteriorating housing stock scattered throughout all opportunity zones.
  • Poorly equipped, undersized parks in neighborhoods.
  • Little to no sidewalks for walking, jogging or bike riding.


  • New cultural and entertainment venues and APSU expansion could serve as catalysts which spark downtown revitalization.
  • A wide cross-section of stakeholders are ready to collaborate on revitalization.


  • Lack of financial incentives for private residential investment in the downtown district.
  • The threat of financial risk for private residential investors to develop in the downtown district.
  • Public opinion may not support downtown residential development.
  • Gentrification or the threat of insensitivity to current residents and stakeholders.

Key Opportunities and/or Initiatives

The Committee proposes the following:

a) that there be five (5) distinct districts;

b) that each District includes various Opportunity Zones/Activity Nodes with a suggested sequence for implementation as follows:

City Core District

1-3 years

  • Campus/College Street Pedestrian overpass
  • Relocation of Clarksville Transit transfer station
  • Expansion of the Roxy Regional Theatre
  • Establish a Business Incubator Center
  • Close Franklin Street between 1st and 2nd street.

4-10 years

  • Establish a Conference Center
  • Attract Corporate Offices of national/regional businesses or organizations
  • Relocate City Hall to a more prominent area
  • Locate a Grocery Store within the district
  • Establish a children’s science museum
  • Establish a downtown hotel
  • Construct and market more affordable housing
  • Establish a Civic Center which also houses service-oriented non-profits
  • Extend 8th Street through to Madison St. and align more directly with Greenwood Ave.
  • Develop commerce/businesses closer to APSU
  • Extend 10th Street through to College St.

10-20 Years

  • Transform Warehouses into Mixed-use redevelopment areas

University District

1-3 Years

  • Tie into Riverwalk/Rails-to-trails
  • Establish a 2nd Street entrance into the APSU campus
  • Light the APSU water tower (located between 9th and Poston St.)

4-10 years

  • Establish Adult Living communities immediately adjacent to APSU campus
  • Establish “University Heights” redevelopment district
  • Erect an Arboretum
  • Extend 8th Street through to Madison St. and align more directly with Greenwood Ave.
  • Widen Kraft St.
  • Develop Mixed-use in areas adjoining Kraft St. and the Industrial re-use zone

North Riverside Drive District

1-3 Years

  • Move forward with the Fort Clark development
  • Construct Ft Defiance bridge over Red River ASAP

4-10 Years

  • Establish Spring Street by-pass to re-direct vehicular traffic from Riverside Dr.

10-20 Years

  • Re-purpose/re-develop Two Rivers Business Center

South Riverside Drive District

1-3 Years

  • Continue Riverwalk from McGregor Park to Marina
  • Continue Trail into and through Valleybrook Park and tie into Riverwalk
  • Restore/re-purpose railroad bridge with a pedestrian/bike trail connected to property across the Cumberland on the West side of the river
  • Expand Marina mixed-use development

4-10 Years

  • Expand retail development in/near the current “Big Lots” area
  • Pedestrian Overpass to join the Riverwalk and Marina
  • Develop housing and retail outlets at “Petri Pointe”
  • Convert Ingram Sandpiles area into condominiums/mixed-use area
  • 10-20 Years
  • Revitalize the Hickory Grove area
  • Revitalize South Crossland area

Industrial Re-use District

1-3 Years

  • Widen College Street with a median as a mixed-use area.  Make it a true “Gateway” to the city core district with underground utilities.
  • Expand Dixon Park eastward to include the old grainery site border  by Reynolds.

4-10 Years

  • Redevelop the Vulcan property as a mixed-use area

Support  Resources

In addition to the numerous existing studies provided on the Master Committee’s dedicated website, various Urban Design sub-committee members also researched the following websites for ideas on best practices of other city’s undertaking urban revitalization:

  •  (with regard to Fayetteville, AR and Roanoke, VA)

About the Author

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