June 6, 2013 9:44:34 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Developers of the long-awaited Mill at MSU project say an informal National Parks Service opinion bodes well for the overall application process for renovations to the university's historic Cooley Building.
Golden Triangle developer Mark Castleberry said NPS recently gave a positive response in regard to an informal inquiry, and now developers are turning their attention to the formal application for Cooley Building renovations. Formal approval would eliminate an important hurdle and position the project for its groundbreaking.
The Mill development includes three main projects: transforming the historic former cotton mill into a conference center, constructing a nearby hotel and developing mixed-use business parcels in the land adjacent to the university's old physical plant.
Renovation plans must be approved by NPS before developers can go forward with the project.
"We're far from being neutral right now; we're working very diligently," Castleberry said of the application.
MSU purchased the John M. Stone Cotton Mill in 1965 and renamed it after the school's former superintendent of utilities, E.E. Cooley. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
The Columbus-based developer declined to name a date in which construction crews would break ground on the project, but he said they're close to making that announcement.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said he believes the project will go forward and called the Mill a game-changing project which will provide economic benefits to residents for years to come.
In April, the Starkville Board of Aldermen approved a 15-year, $3.25 million-maximum tax increment financing agreement associated with the project. The TIF will utilize 75 percent of ad valorem and sales tax returns for debt payments. Monies from the agreement will help pay for various infrastructure projects associated with the Mill, including public parking facilities, roadways, sidewalks and utilities.
A Community Development Block Grant is also expected to fund construction of an $8 million parking structure associated with the Mill project.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch