CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Demolition of about two-thirds of the old Frosty Morn meat packing plant got underway Saturday with the toppling of the iconic smokestack that had loomed over the property since 1948.
Morgan Contractors Inc. of Clarksville was awarded the contract on a bid of $1.057 million to demolish parts of the existing structures, clear the site of debris, and prepare it for redevelopment. The demolition and remediation is scheduled for completion by Dec. 31, 2020.
“At long last, the Frosty Morn site is being cleaned up, made safe and prepared for redevelopment,” Mayor Joe Pitts said. “We continue to work on designing a new future for the property, as a Red River community center that would be a hub for local organizations and artisans, and perhaps a year-round farmers market. These kinds of uses will create economic activity, provide a boost for small businesses, and be a complement to the nearby Vulcan property, which is also primed for private redevelopment.”
For Ward 5 Councilwoman Wanda Smith, who has championed progress on Frosty Morn for several years, Saturday’s demolition work was the start of a dream coming true.
“As I reminisce, I see a building in distress, but today, I look forward and see a building of progress,” Smith said. “I can say that my struggles, ‘good trouble’ and conversations have not been in vain. I am so happy with tears of joy, to know that change is on the way. It has been a long time waiting, a long time without progress, and a long time to be believed.”
Smith said the buildings, on 3.26 acres at 625 Frosty Morn Drive in the Red River neighborhood east of Austin Peay State University, were an eyesore and a danger zone of dilapidation and deterioration.
“My mission for Frosty Morn is to make it a historical place to meet, greet, eat, shop and enjoy a concert,” Smith said. “Further, I want to thank Mayor Pitts and City Council members who have supported this struggle for change.”
The Frosty Morn slaughterhouse, meat processing and packing facility was constructed for a 1948 plant opening. Operation continued until the plant closed in 1977. After this date, the property changed ownership several times, until the City of Clarksville became the owner of last resort, acquiring the property involuntarily at a delinquent tax sale in September 2013.
Starting in 2014, the City commissioned several environmental assessments and engineering reports about the Frosty Morn site. These assessments were geared toward applications for federal Brownfield remediation program grants, which City leaders hoped would produce resources for recovery and redevelopment of the property.
The City worked closely with the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation and various consultants. Several grant applications were put forward, but none were selected for funding.
Last year, the City contracted with K&S Engineering, Clarksville, to examine the site and determine which parts of the complex could be reasonably salvaged and redeveloped. About one-third of the buildings were deemed salvageable, and now the other two thirds are being removed. Officials said the iconic smokestack that came down Saturday was dangerous and too dilapidated to consider for restoration. However, Mayor Pitts said the redevelopment design may include a vertical structure that recalls the signature smokestack.
“In summary, (several areas) appear to feature the most potential in considering portions to retain for future use as compared to other areas within the existing facility,” K&S wrote in a summary. “These recommendations are based on our observations and emphasizing consideration of current condition, ability to renovate/restore, potential for mixed use and future flexibility. However, it should be recognized that any portion of the facility retained for future use will present certain challenges in renovation/restoration efforts.”
Based on the K&S report, in December 2019, the City Council added a Capital Project to the budget to enable $1.2 million to be spent on the Frosty Morn property for partial demolition and clean up and to prepare the site for redevelopment.
This diagram of the Frosty Morn buildings shows the area, in yellow, that is being torn down and removed. The other areas will be cleaned up and restored as a community center.
The old Frosty Morn building before Saturday’s demolition of the smokestack.
Workers inspect the structure after the top half of the smokestack came down. After a second pull by a bulldozer, the bottom half toppled, becoming a pile of dust and rubble.