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Castleberry wants new TIF deal for CottonMill


Mark Castleberry

Mark Castleberry



Carl Smith



Golden Triangle developer Mark Castleberry confirmed he will approach the Starkville Board of Aldermen tonight and request a new infrastructure financing package associated with the former CottonMill Marketplace project. 


Castleberry said he is seeking a 15-year, $3.25 million tax in finance (TIF) agreement for infrastructure improvements which will utilize up to 75 percent of ad valorem and sales tax returns for debt payments. A previous TIF agreement with the project's former developer, Mark Nicholas, was for 95 percent of taxes, he said. 


Castleberry also confirmed he will ask the city for other housekeeping items, including amending previous agreements the city made with Nicholas for his own development. In addition, he said agreements must be made to proceed with a potential Community Development Block Grant for a parking structure. 


Since the matter is scheduled to go before the board of aldermen during executive session, no documentation outlining the specifics of these requests was available in the city's e-packet. 


The city and county have used TIF agreements successfully in the past to spur developments. Developers for the Middleton shopping center, located off Mississippi Highway 12, received an up-to 50 percent TIF from local governing bodies, Castleberry said. 


"Middleton was a perfect example of what a TIF should do - revitalize, re-energize and spur development," Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said. "There were few occupants there at the time (before a TIF package was issued for development); now, there are numerous businesses and things are developing around it." 


In November, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning approved a contract between Mississippi State University and Castleberry, which named him the new developer of the CottonMill project. The State College Board also voted to sell MSU's Cooley Building to Castleberry for approximately $460,000. 


The Mississippi Business Journal reported in January Castleberry was changing the development's name to the Cooley Center Development.  


His plan focuses on developing the Cooley Building into a conference center, constructing a hotel and developing business parcels in the land adjacent to the university's old physical plant. In November, The Dispatch reported the project was estimated at $60 million. 


If the board approves his requests, Castleberry said the next steps are to finalize master plans and move into construction documents. Hurdles still exist for the Cooley Building's final plan in regard to its historic designation by the National Parks Service, he said. 


"Their decisions will impact the master plan," Castleberry said. 


Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said Castleberry brings renewed vigor for the development. The development, he said, is on track under Castleberry's leadership. 


Golden Triangle Development LINK Vice President Joey Deason said the entire development could create approximately 150 new jobs. Besides bolstering the local economy, he said the physical aspects of the development would leave a tremendous visual impression at one of MSU's main gateways. 


Deason represents Oktibbeha County interests toward industrial development with the LINK. 


"Whenever you start talking job numbers like that, it's a big impact for the community. That's when I have another asset to help sell the Starkville, Oktibbeha County and Mississippi State," he said. "I think this project is back on track and moving in the right direction with the right team involved." 


Starkville aldermen will convene 5:30 p.m. today at City Hall for their recess meeting.


Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch



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