The owner of the former Colgate-Palmolive property in south Clarksville has asked for mediation in the now federal case involving the town’s attempts to take the property and its iconic clock by eminent domain. In court filings, the owner said they are still working to redevelop the property, including revitalizing space for an Aloft Hotel.
Attorneys for Clarks Landing Enterprise Investments LLC, which owns the roughly 46-acre former plant, said in court filings this week Clarksville’s attempt to take the property is “an abuse of the town’s eminent domain powers.”
They’ve asked the judge to dismiss the complaint and set the matter for mediation.
Formal attempts at taking the property go back to at least last June, when the town council voted unanimously to condemn the former plant. They released a joint statement saying they had witnessed the “depreciation and degradation” of the historic property — which once housed a state prison — for more than a decade.
“If we allowed for the site to continue to degrade for another 11 years it would likely require demolition,” according to the statement. “We want to preserve and enjoy our history, we do not want to see it relegated solely to pictures and stories.”
Town leaders had previously been working with the owner to redevelop the property and in 2019, approved a master plan for rehabilitation and development at the site that once housed the Colgate-Palmolive Company.
Plans included a hotel, multi-family residential units and commercial space. Court records filed by Clarks Landing show several parts of the plan were set to start in 2020, but town leaders say the owner has done little to develop the area.
In February, the town offered Clarks Landing $6 million for the property, saying they would move forward with eminent domain if they refused or ignored the offer by the 30-day deadline.
The owner didn’t accept that offer, and in March, Clarksville attorneys filed a complaint in state court arguing the property included structures that “because of their physical conditions constitute a public nuisance” and were “unfit for human habitation or use because the structures are dilapidated, unsanitary, unsafe or do not contain the facilities or equipment required by applicable building codes or housing codes [under Indiana law].”
The town also argued the site has buildings which pose a fire hazard, and that some utilities had been disconnected or destroyed.
They say they want to preserve the historical significance of the property, and that preservation of the Colgate clock “is a primary objective.”
They’re seeking eminent domain to eventually transfer the property to another private party for ownership or control.
The case has since been transferred to federal court. In a response filed this week, attorneys for Clarks Landing asked for mediation, an evidentiary hearing on Clarksville’s complaint to take the property, for the complaint to be dismissed and Clarks Landing to be awarded court costs.
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