Southern Indiana

The City of Jeffersonville is partnering with American Commercial Barge Line to redevelop the former Jeffboat site for a brand new purpose.

The Jeffersonville Redevelopment Commission approved an agreement Tuesday to provide up to $200,000 for the costs of developing a master plan. The local firm OHM Advisors will lead those efforts for the 80-acre property that was once one of the largest inland shipbuilding facilities in the country.

After the vote, representatives from the city and ACBL held a news conference overlooking the site.

“How many times do you get 80 acres, a mile long of riverfront property?” Mayor Mike Moore said. “This will change the city of Jeffersonville, and in an extremely positive way. … You are going to have investors from across the country who want to play a role in the development of this site.”

Moore said he hopes to see a mixed-use development that incorporates housing, green space and other amenities.

The project could also include an extension of the Ohio River Greenway trail and recognition of the site’s shipbuilding history.

“I’ve had a whole lot of neighborhood meetings and the overwhelming comments have been we want some green space, we’d love to see another marina,” Moore said. “It’s been described to me, as people have said, a village, to where you want to live here but also be able to get your groceries or your medical needs.”

Officials estimate the master planning process will last about 10 months and include three public input meetings. The first meeting could take place in January.

ACBL will maintain ownership of the property as part of the public-private partnership.

“We could have obviously done this alone or sold the property to monetize the value,” CEO Mike Ellis said. “But we have seen the success of the City of Jeffersonville, what they’ve done with your downtown Jeffersonville and the redevelopment there. And we thought, what better way to extend that success and partner with them and share some of the same visions.”

Jeffboat closed in 2018 due to a decline in business, after nearly 200 years in operation.

John Boyle is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. John’s coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County, Community Foundation of Southern Indiana and Samtec, Inc.

John Boyle is a reporter and editor at WFPL news focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.