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Indiana community weighs in on the future of the Colgate building

Local business owners said adding life back into the building would be a great way to keep its charm but also help the local businesses in the area.

CLARKSVILLE, Ind. — The future of the historic Colgate-Palmolive building is on the minds of many in Kentuckiana.

The Clarksville City Council voted to condemn the building earlier this week, and many wonder if this means they will move toward demolition or preservation.

"We have witnessed the depreciation and degradation of one of the town's most iconic and historic sites," Ryan Ramsey, the Clarksville Town Council president, said.

Ramsey says the council's use of eminent domain is the first step in preserving the buildings on the property.

He said the city plans to preserve the site and has no intention of demolishing it, even saying they are open to future development of it as they have been expecting.

A building stuck in time, ready for a new life, the Colgate-Palmolive factory closed its doors in 2008.

However, the history of the structure dates back to 1847, something Southern Indiana residents like Sydney Squire, assistant manager of Amaryllis Salon, say make it so special.

"I used to drive past this cupcake building, like all the time, and it was so cool to see," Squire said. "I remember I was teeny tiny and seeing the Colgate clock and seeing it lit up and stuff. I thought it was so cool."

She says adding life back into the building would be a great way to keep its charm but also help the local businesses in the area.

Alex Hunnicutt is the owner of Thrive Floral Studio, which is located on the corner of Main and Court, overlooking the iconic clock atop of the building.

"The street lines up with it very well, it's a really, really great landmark. It's absolutely iconic," Hunnicutt said. 

He says to know the city actually wants to do something with the dozens of buildings on the property is a promising sign to him.

"That support from the city is everything that we need over here to grow. It makes people comfortable investing in the area, it shows the long term commitment of the city to the citizens of the area," Hunnicutt said.

Representative Justine Endres, with Clark Landing Enterprises Investment LLC, sent WHAS11 this statement:

"Clark’s Landing has multiple shovel-ready projects, including an ALoft hotel project as well as a multi-family project that we still intend to pursue. As you might expect the redevelopment and reuse of historic property costs significantly more than a similar Greenfield Project, often 50% more. The Town has funded local public improvements like streets, roads and utilities through TIF and other methods to the surrounding developers in the Clark’s Landing area. We have requested similar contributions to the infrastructure in this area  from the Town, and are hopeful that it works out. We urge the Town of Clarksville to back up its words with actions. If the Town truly wants to see progress while preserving our heritage we encourage them to step up to the plate to help move these projects forward rather than stand in the way. Additional obstacles are not needed and we hope to focus on our mutual desire to contribute to the success of south Clarksville.  

Clark’s Landing intends to continue utilizing this historic property for productive purposes and has spent millions to rehabilitate this 50-acre former Colgate site over the last few years. We have torn down buildings that needed to be demolished and preserved others, all while developing an exciting development plan. We still plan to continue bringing high paying jobs and business into the Town on this site and others in South Clarksville. We believe in south Clarksville and are happy to be part of it. We do not believe the town has the authority to ultimately take the property. We plan to continue to operate, maintain and improve the south Clarksville area. We also applaud the Town for its own recent efforts to improve this area. 

The former Colgate-Palmolive has more than two million square feet of space within 54 buildings. Currently 20 buildings have about 850,000 square feet of usable space. To put that space into perspective, the building with the iconic clock is approximately 30,000 sf. The total built out space on the site is almost 20 times the size of the clock building. The site is a designated historic district listed on the national register of historic places and is designated an opportunity zone. 

The only concern that we are aware of regarding the existing historic structures is with respect to building 44. That building is a small 3377 sq ft building sitting on the east end of the property. The town of Clarksville has previously identified a road in the approved Development plans from 2009, which is prior to the current ownership. Those plans require building 44 to be removed. We continue to be open to any discussions regarding the site."

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