The massive clock on top of the former Colgate-Palmolive plant has stood over the Ohio River for nearly a century.

The clock, constructed in 1924 after the plant opened, has become a recognizable symbol of Clarksville’s riverfront. The plant operated until 2008 and was sold to an investment company a few years later. 

Clarks Landing Enterprise Investments LLC owns the property—for now. The Clarksville Town Council voted unanimously to condemn the former plant Tuesday night.

The council agreed to use eminent domain to change the building’s ownership. They said the company has done little to develop the site despite years of offered incentives.

In a joint statement, the council wrote, ”if we allowed for the site to continue to degrade for another 11 years, it would likely require demolition.”

Greg Sekula, Southern Regional Director at Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, said the decision is a strategic move on the council’s part to get the property in the hands of someone who will make improvements conducive with the changing riverfront scene.

“The integrity of the district hinges on the preservation of the majority of those buildings,” Sekula said.

The area around the plant has seen intentional growth in recent years. A mixed-use development called “Bolt + Tie” opened in May 2021 just down the street from the former plant, offering apartment and office spaces to small businesses.

“There’s a growing sense of frustration that the current owner has yet to deliver on any sort of substantial redevelopment plan for the [Colgate plant] property, so I believe the town has preservation upmost on its mind,” Sekula said.

News and Tribune reported in July 2019 the council approved The Clark’s Landing project’s plans for a hotel, residential spaces, commercial spaces and a civic center. None of those plans came to fruition.

“My hope is that we’re going to find a developer who can really move forward with a plan that involves the redevelopment of the property,” Sekula said.

Michael is a senior studying journalism and political science at Western Kentucky University and a news reporter with WFPL and KyCIR.