Purpose and Intent
Clarksville, Tennessee, the county seat of Montgomery County and its only incorporated area was founded in 1785 and served the region for over 150 years as a transportation hub for the profitable tobacco trade which has created a rich cultural legacy. Clarksville continues to thrive and grow in economic strength and population that consistently outpaces national averages. Ft. Campbell and Austin Peay State University are two of its most important assets in addition to many viable industries.
This growth, however, has not followed in the downtown and river district (“District”) areas. Suburban shopping centers and the relocation of many governmental agencies, both city and county, have weakened the District’s health. Growth and renewal in the District has not kept pace with the balance of the community. The tornado of 1999 and the Flood of 2010, while creating opportunities have, on balance, also weakened the fabric and viability.
Responding to this, the Downtown District Partnership and the River District Commission proposed a merger in 2008 to combine the strengths of the organizations hoping to achieve a synergy that is greater than the sum of the parts, resulting in the formation of the Two Rivers Company. The organization moved to identify and address key issues facing the District as follows:
• While various plans and studies have been prepared for the downtown over the past decade, many of the ideas have not been implemented. The riverfront planning is an exception, as much implementation has occurred there.
• Past efforts for on-going revitalization of the downtown have received insufficient funding to achieve success.
• Both the general public and public officials need to be convinced of the importance of the downtown/riverfront and educated on related issues.
• Because of the proximity and continued growth of APSU, it has tremendous potential for benefiting the downtown if physical linkages and destinations can be provided to attract the APSU community. Lack of connectivity to assets is an impediment to growth.
• Despite apparent demand for downtown housing, there is still substantial vacant upper floor space in existing buildings. Financial incentives for housing may be required as well as regulatory revisions.
• Riverside Drive serves as a physical and psychological barrier between the river and downtown and the volume and speed of traffic discourages many types of desirable activities.
• The Two Rivers Company needs a detailed mission, a strategic plan, office space and staffing to address these challenges.
• Stable long-term funding sources will be critical to TRC’s future success. Downtown Clarksville and the River District are cherished public assets. Clarksville’s citizens will be placing a great deal of trust in the TRC to be faithful stewards of these assets.
About Clarksville, TN
Founded In 1785 at the confluence of the Cumberland and Red Rivers, Clarksville was Middle Tennessee’s second incorporated city, after Nashville. Although the state’s fifth largest city, Clarksville has maintained its small-town charm and friendly atmosphere.
History of Clarksville & Montgomery County
In 1796, when Tennessee became the 16th state, Tennessee County of which Clarksville was a part, was divided into Montgomery and Robertson counties with Clarksville the county seat of Montgomery County. The name Montgomery honored John Montgomery, who was a founder of Clarksville as well as a renowned Indian fighter and Revolutionary War leader.
Customs House (courtesy of Montgomery County Historical Society)During the Civil War, Fort Donelson, Fort Henry and Fort Defiance were established in preparation of the Union advance, only to fall to Federal troops in 1862.
After the Civil War, traffic on the Cumberland River continued to be of great importance to the community and Clarksville became well known for its production of dark fired tobacco, the primary money crop. From 1900 to 1940, Clarksville’s trade and business progressed with the growth of the town being closely connected to the county farming area.
Education became an important theme in the county in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the establishment of the Rural Academy in 1806 on the present site of Austin Peay State University.
Military activity again would impact the county during World War II when the army established Camp Campbell in Montgomery County. Over 42,000 acres were purchased and in June 1942, relocation of families was completed. The post was named in honor of General William Bowen Campbell. On 15 April 1950, the post became Fort Campbell after it changed from a temporary installation to a permanent one.
Montgomery County has furnished two governors to the state, Willie Blount and Austin Peay; a United States Supreme Court Justice and a Postmaster General, Horace H. Lurton and Cave Johnson, respectively.
(excerpts from Montgomery County Historical Society)
Clarksville, Tennessee is one of the state’s oldest cities with historic, natural and economic resources which rival any city of its size. Clarksville continues to grow at a high rate and is consistently ranked nationally as a desirable community to live in.
The Downtown and River District provides Clarksville with an extremely important sense of community, history and identity. The heart and soul of the community is manifest in its historic Downtown fabric. The citizens of Clarksville recognize that the identity and vitality of the city would be irreparably harmed by any significant degradation of the downtown and riverfront areas.
To prevent further degradation and foster revitalization the District must be continually improved and strengthened as the city’s suburban commercial centers continue to develop.Given appropriate attention to its infrastructure, appearance and promotion, the District can come back as a prosperous and attractive commercial and cultural center – one which is a desirable place to work, live, shop, visit and recreate.
The District must be user-friendly, safe, secure and healthy. The Downtown must also maintain a diversity of businesses, and institutions, housing and attractions. It is important to the success of the District area to improve the ease of access for all people, whether walking, biking or driving. These elements must be accomplished while maintaining the ambience and historic character of the area. Especially important is preserving and enhancing the community’s heritage, reflected in the physical beauty and cultural vigor of the Downtown and its River District.
Our primary goal is an economically thriving District that attracts investment, stabilizes and strengthens the tax base and supports the vitality and diversity of Clarksville and Montgomery County as its social and cultural center. The vitality of the District is important to the overall economic success of the Clarksville-Montgomery County area. That is why the District must be reestablished as the center of the community in which all citizens can participate and take exceptional pride.