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CottonMill developer: ‘We’re getting close’

Starkville’s multi-million dollar re-development project closer to reality

The proposed mixed-use development that will sit where the Starkville city limits meet the Mississippi State University campus got a nudge forward last week from the Starkville Board of Aldermen.

Aldermen voted to ask the Mississippi Development Authority for $3.8 million for road improvements to accommodate CottonMill Marketplace, which will transform the E.E. Cooley Building on Russell Street, which once housed MSU’s physical plant, into a conference center and add a hotel and retail space. 

The project has spent most of the past year languishing, as the credit markets tightened and prevented developers from securing financing. There has also been a disagreement between MSU and the developers over a purchase agreement for the land.

Gulfport-based Comvest Properties pulled out of the project last year to concentrate on building its business on the Coast and surrounding area. Nicholas Properties of Ridgeland and Georgia-based PDK Investment Group have stepped in and taken it over.

To go with the request for $3.8 million from the MDA, aldermen voted to make CottonMill eligible for the Mississippi Tourism Incentive Project, which would funnel sales tax revenue the development generates to the MTIP for the next 10 years.

Starkville will also apply for $8 million in Katrina-related Community Development Block Grant money that will go toward engineering fees, land acquisition and parking areas.

Efforts to reach PKD’s managing director Mark Boutwell were unsuccessful, but he told the Starkville Daily News that the project is “making progress” but wouldn’t divulge any specifics.

Mark Nicholas of Nicholas Properties struck the same tone in an interview with the Mississippi Business Journal conducted last week.

“We’re pushing the project forward,” he said. “(Last week’s vote) was the first step in several steps that have to happen for this project to become a reality.

“We have several other steps that have to happen. We’re pushing hard on the financing (now). The financing is part of the next major hurdle. All the capital markets look a lot better. We continue to make headway, and we think we’re getting close.”

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