Friday, April 27, 2007

Clarksville, IN Continues to Sprawl

The Clark County, Indiana suburb of Clarksville continues to be an epicenter of god-awful new suburban schlock. The town, which already has a reputation as the shopping district for all of the Southern Indiana suburbs, has been going on a binge of new retail construction since the completion of Veterans Parkway in 2004.

The town, which originally had very unique plans for the Veterans corridor, completely let them fall by the wayside in search for new tax revenue. In the process they've created a road that is congested, ugly, and is nothing more than a copy of Lewis & Clark Parkway to the south. In the past 2 years developers have thrown up such amazing places as Target, Sam's Club, Olive Garden, Old Navy, Bed Bath and Beyond, and IHOP. Latest development plans include a Border's Books, the first free standing Starbucks in Southern Indiana, and no less than SIX hotels - Candlewood Suites, Holiday Inn Express, and ValuPlace are the currently known 3 of 6.

While the idea of these retail and lodging options is good (Everyone likes having decent shopping nearby) - the execution in Clarksville is incredibly poor. And worse yet is the sense of pride that town officials feel when they describe the new construction. It is almost as if they feel they've accomplished something unique, yet fail to notice that every single other town that is similar to Clarksville has the exact sames stores and look almost the exact same. (I liken Clarksville to Greenwood or Avon in Indianapolis in terms of general feel and retail options)

In spite of ordinances regulating the look of Veteran's Parkway, the road looks just about as cluttered and messy as Lewis & Clark. And traffic is pretty awful - unless it's 1 in the morning, then it's smooth sailing.

Unfortunately for Clarksville, it has fallen for what so many other similar communities in America have - that if you build these large auto-centric shopping plazas, then you will forever have a source of strong income and revenue. However, one only has to drive to Lewis & Clark Parkway to see that all the town is doing is cannibalizing it's other retail corridors, and it won't be but a few decades before yet another place is newer and nicer, and the residents of the town will be left with hulking, abandoned buildings. Greentree Mall on Lewis & Clark continues to decline, only while developers are planning a 1.2 million square lifestyle center less than a mile away.

Clarksville, instead of trying to implement a plan of development that would actually stand the test of time, has (and probably always will) chased after the easiest dollar and development.

I guess some places get what they deserve.

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