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VOL. 37 | NO. 17 | Friday, April 26, 2013

Clarksville 2nd-fastest growing area in US

By Hollie Deese

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The latest U.S. Census numbers, released last month, showed the rest of the country what Clarksville residents already suspected. The multi-county Metropolitan Statistical Area of Clarksville is officially the second fastest-growing city in the country, with a 3.7 percent boost from July 2011 to July 2012.

“We really have several areas that are doing very well,” says Marion Jewell, president of the Clarksville Association of Realtors, adding the new figures can be seen in development and sales.

“Along the Tiny Town Road corridor, which is close to the base of Fort Campbell, there are several new subdivisions that are doing extremely well. Then we have another new development [Ellington Gait in the St. Bethlehem area] that is closer to [I-24] Exit 4 and Exit 8, where the mall is and where the business park is. That has been doing tremendous.”

When it comes to the real estate dating game, Clarksville buyers are drawn to a very specific type. The “it” house typically has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, at least a one-car garage and falls between $150,000 and $175,000. Give or take a detail or two.

Not surprisingly, this has something to do with Fort Campbell’s 30,000 soldiers, their nearly 55,000 family members and their Basic Housing Allowance, which is calculated on local rent prices.

And when you consider that the monthly stipend, which can range from $822-$1,917, depending on rank and dependents, can cover the properties that fall into those parameters, houses in those ranges don’t stay on the market long.

“On the north side of town close to the Kentucky border, Tiny Town Road and up to Exit 8 are a lot of the military families that are stationed at Fort Campbell,” says Jewell, who specializes in military relocation and settled in Clarksville because of her now-retired husband’s military career.

“Hypothetically, if you are getting $1,000 a month, you don’t have much choice on the installation,” she says. “You might not have a big yard or there are certain other things you don’t like.

“For the same $1,000, you can buy a $180,000 house in a school district that you want with the yard that you want and the amenities you want – and you have a tax break.”

The average listing price for homes in Clarksville is currently $179,905, and median sales price is $131,625.

It’s also becoming increasingly popular for retired parents of active-duty soldiers to move to the area, especially if those have young families. And while retirees might initially come to Clarksville to be near military offspring, the amenities that come along with the area – aside from unlimited time with the grandkids – keep them happy while they’re here.

Plus, retired military personnel must live within 40-miles of an installation to take full advantage of benefits.

“People are moving close to where their kids are stationed, and we have a lot of older folks who think Clarksville is very affordable because, for the square footage, you can get a very nice house,” Jewell says.

“We have good climate, and you are convenient to Nashville and the next closest airport.”

Jewell also sees families who look into refinancing their current home realizing that, at today’s rates, they can get a bigger house for the same money. So they upgrade, possibly to a newer home in the Terraces of Clarksville, which start at $270,000.

“With the interest rate at an all-time low, we have a lot of people who actually thought about refinancing their current home and realize that for the same payments they are paying now for a $125,000 house they can buy a $200,000 house,” Jewell says. “So rather than refinancing they are selling the smaller ones and buying the bigger ones for the same amount of money.”

Of course many of the area’s employers have nothing to do with the base. Trane Company produces heating and air conditioning equipment and employs 1,400 people, while the Wal-Mart Supercenter employs just as many. Jostens Printing and Publishing has another 700 on staff.

“We have quite a bit of industry,” Jewell says. “I think the diversity is here with a little bit of everything.”

And that includes local recreation and Nashville’s amenities as well.

“I think half of the people who live in Clarksville have a boat because you have the Cumberland right in front of you; you have the Red River,” Jewell says. “You go 30 minutes down the road and you have the Land between the Lakes, which is great hiking, fishing and boating.

“Then [in Nashville] you have Fontanel, Bridgestone, TPAC, The Frist. That 30 minute-drive attracts a lot of people. You have a bigger city nearby, but you have the affordability of a small town.”