What Could The Future Of The Former Vulcan Site Mean For The Community?

Posted by: Jeff Truitt on Friday, May 31, 2019

Here we sit in one of the most ideal situations we could hope for when it comes to the advancement of Clarksville - Montgomery County. One of the main entrances to our Downtown is now for sale and ready to transform an area of town that needs a serious facelift.

With the future of the nearly 31-acre former Vulcan site up in the air, the question has posed itself repeatedly, “why not use that property to build the multi-purpose event center.” While I completely understand the question and logic behind it, I wanted to write this blog to better explain our thoughts on that exact question.

While the location does appear to be ideal for a large event center, building the MPEC there would stifle the great possibilities of that property. In order to ensure connectivity between the Vulcan site, downtown and APSU, we must allow that site to develop organically. The creation of a private development with residential, office, retail and recreation on that 30-plus acre site will create just the economic stimulus we need. The site which sits along a stretch of College Street across from Silke's, among other businesses and empty buildings, can spur growth to become something we can all be proud of and we, at the EDC, can aggressively market and promote. We need inventory on busy roadways, we currently have very little.

The site is also ideal for developers looking to capitalize on the federal government’s Opportunity Zone (OZ) initiative. For those who may not know, the OZ is a national community investment program that connects private capital with lower income “zones” in a community to encourage long-term investment. The OZ census tracts are nominated by state governors and then certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Investors can finance new projects (that fit within certain criteria) in exchange for federal capital gains tax advantages. There are already more than 8,700 OZ’s nationwide. We just so happen to have four zones and they are, thankfully, contiguous and encompass our entire Downtown area.

The site could also be subject to additional incentives if the right project should present itself, as OZ’s can be overlaid with a TIF or PILOT agreement.

Looking at case studies of other communities, the direct, annual economic impact of a well-developed mixed-use community is well into the millions. There is also the added environmental benefit of residents walking to work, eat and shop or utilizing our public transportation options. Combine those dollars with the dollars generated by the MPEC - our community would be in a situation to better fund projects, such as infrastructure needs, that have been on the books for years.

We need to face facts that a centralized Downtown lifestyle is what is attracting the millennial workforce to places like Nashville. We are one of the youngest cities in the state of Tennessee with an average age just over 30 but lack the entertainment options that those born after 1980 are looking for.

There is also a great need for professional office space. According to our most recent Strategic Blueprint (Garner Economics, 7/2018, PG 43), we have 11,447 residents leaving Montgomery County every day to work office jobs in Nashville. If we could capture and retain half of those, that is more money being pumped into our local economy annually.

Look at how the Capitol View area of Nashville has developed and think of how we can, as a community, create a similar concept that is fitting for Clarksville. The possibilities are truly limitless if we look at the Vulcan site as a gateway and continue to develop the Downtown and River district in such a way that they all tie easily together. The Multi-Purpose Event Center will drive central Downtown and Austin Peay growth while the future development of the Vulcan site will drive positive change just on the “outskirts” of Downtown.

While there is nothing in the works quite yet, I hope that people will begin to see the big picture of what the right kind of development to that site can mean for not only us but our children and grandchildren. We must keep our foot on the gas pedal on all of Clarksville – Montgomery County projects and capitalize on the positive political climate our city and county are now experiencing.

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Private comment posted on June 1, 2019 at 8:06:58 pm
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News

Friday, January 11, 2019

The Clarksville-Montgomery County, Tenn. Economic Development Council (EDC) Executive Committee is pleased to announce they have received commitment from Jeff M. Truitt, 46, of Clarksville, to fill the position of Chief Executive Officer.

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Direct travel expenditures reached an all-time high of $224 million in 2017. This is an increase of 6.2% percent, or $13.1 million, over 2016.

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