Home » MBJ FEATURE » CottonMill might have cleared final hurdle

CottonMill might have cleared final hurdle

At a meeting Dec. 9 with the Starkville Board of Mayor and Aldermen, developers of the CottonMill Marketplace said they hope to complete financing of the $100-million project by the end of the month.

That was welcome news to Alderman Ben Carver, who represents Starkville’s Ward 1.

“It seems like it’s been forever,” he said. CottonMill’s concept predates his time on the board.

The project, indeed, has had its share of setbacks. The original developers of the project backed out once securing financing for it became an issue.

Then the current developers had to settle a dispute with another Starkville real estate company over the project’s proximity to the old University Inn.

Mark Nicholas, of Ridgeland-based Nicholas properties, told Starkville officials that the project has most of its major issues behind it and can move forward.

Numerous attempts to reach Nicholas on his cell phone failed last week.

He told the Commercial Dispatch newspaper in Columbus he expects to have the final stages of financing wrapped up between  Dec. 28 and 30.

The mixed-use conference, retail and office development will have as its center the old E.E. Cooley Building on the campus of Mississippi State University, which once housed that institution’s physical plant. Nicholas and his group purchased the building from MSU in early fall. Plans include transforming the historic building into a freestanding convention center. There are plans for the school to rent office space in it once the development is completed.

South of the Cooley Building, CottonMill’s plans call for a hotel and restaurant. A parking garage will be adjacent to that. The second phase of the development would feature retail and residential space.

No timetable has been set for construction to start, but completion is scheduled for mid- to late-2012.

Starkville officials have secured $8 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to buy land, valued at $500,000, where the parking garage will sit. What the rest of the money will be used for remained unclear last week. It’s possible the funds could be used for the ongoing repair and maintenance of the parking garage, but the Mississippi Business Journal could not confirm that last week.

“This will probably be one of the larger public-private partnerships in Mississippi,” Carver said. “It’s going to be unique, and it’s moving really fast, finally. It’ll be a pretty big boost for a town of 25,000 people.”

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