JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - Looking around at acres of undeveloped land at the entrance to Jeffersonville at 10th and Spring streets, city councilman Scott Hawkins couldn't stop smiling.
"This has always been a nothing, and now it's going to be a something," he said. "This is just another jewel in the crown for Jeffersonville. I mean, I am just totally excited."
On Thursday, Jeffersonville officials broke ground on a long-awaited commercial development project that will transform the city’s main entrance off Interstate 65.
The new Gateway Development at 10th and Spring is a $30 million private investment by Hogan Development of Louisville. Hogan was also the developer of Veterans Crossing in Clarksville.
With cheers and a shout of "bravo" from the crowd, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore also announced at the groundbreaking that the first free-standing Starbucks is coming to the city.
"It may just be a coffee shop to some, but it is a huge shot in the arm for the city of Jeff," Moore said during the event.
"Starbucks doesn't land just anywhere. They do a lot of homework, and they look at communities that are growing. I am very proud to say Starbucks will be calling the entrance to Jeffersonville — The Gateway — home."
The development will span nearly 11 acres and consist of two phases, with the first phase to include the Starbucks, along with at least three other — currently unnamed — restaurants. The second phase of the project will see two hotels and possibly an office complex rise along the entryway.
The city has been setting the stage for the development over the past several months by making infrastructure improvements in the areas of Ninth, 10th and Spring streets.
The primary entrance to the development will be Ninth Street. However, access also will be available from 10th Street. According to a news release from the city, the 10th Street corridor is schedule to be finished this spring.
"There's a lot of hype and a lot of anticipation for what we're going to bring here," Moore said after the event.
Jeffersonville City Council President Ed Zastawny said the groundbreaking is only the beginning of great things to come for the city at the patch of land.
"We are excited about this investment in our community by Hogan," he said. "This is a win-win project in that it is going to add some nice restaurants and amenities to our community, while also bringing new tax dollars to our city."
The mayor echoed Zastawny's sentiments.
"I hope people understand the significance of what this development means because this [the 11 acres of land] has not been generating any revenue for the city, so I think people are going to love having these restaurants and Starbucks here," Moore said.
"But, even if you don't shop here, you're going to benefit from this because millions of new dollars in revenue are going to be coming into the city of Jeff."
The mayor added, "We not only are able to provide a beautiful asset as you enter the city of Jeff, but it's going to create a whole new stream of revenue that everybody in Jeffersonville — regardless of where you live and what neighborhood — you're going to benefit from what happens here."
City councilman Dustin White, who represents the downtown district, said he is pleased with the way the area is transforming.
"It's been a long time coming," he said. "I think it's great for the residents of the first district and also for the new residents that will be coming down with the residential developments that we've got planned."
White said the recent changes in his district are unprecedented.
"When living in Jeff, I've always lived downtown — and it's a big difference from when I was a kid, but it's a good difference," he said.
"So, I'm happy with the way it's progressing. I think we're developing it in the right way to make the downtown area a destination for people in the region where they can come and dine, work, walk, exercise, play and enjoy downtown Jeffersonville."
Moore said he is proud of what's being accomplished in the city with the new Gateway Development, as well as all the areas or growth and renewal throughout the city.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy when I see what we’ve turned Jeffersonville into,” he said. “It’s an incredible feeling. We’ve created a beautiful, brand new city, but we’ve kept all of the charm and the history of what Jeffersonville has. It’s just a new and improved Jeffersonville.”