Starkville OKs funding for Cotton Mill Marketplace

June 16, 2010 12:14:00 PM

Tim Pratt -


In an effort to support the proposed CottonMill Marketplace retail and residential development, the Starkville Board of Aldermen Tuesday passed a number of resolutions, including two to seek a combined $11.8 million in funding for the project and another which will give tax incentives to the developer.  


At the request of the CottonMill Marketplace Development Group, aldermen approved a resolution to seek $8 million in Mississippi Development Authority Community Development Block Grant funds for land acquisition and construction of a parking deck on the property, located north of Highway 12 between Spring Street and Russell Street.  


The board also approved a resolution to seek $3.8 million from the MDA for road improvements and access road construction around the development.  


Additionally, aldermen approved a resolution to submit the development for consideration in MDA''s Mississippi Tourism Rebate Program, which would authorize retail sales collected from CottonMill Marketplace to be diverted to the Mississippi Sales Tax Incentive Fund for as many as 10 years and, subsequently, divert those sales tax revenues to the CottonMill Marketplace Development Group. The city would not receive sales tax revenues from the development while the Mississippi Tourism Rebate Program is in place.  


After the meeting, developer Mark Nicholas was pleased the city took steps on behalf of CottonMill Marketplace, though he wouldn''t divulge additional details about the status of the project.  


"The outlook is very good," Nicholas said. "We can''t say a lot more about that, but there are a lot of people involved and there are a lot of people who want to make this project a reality." 


Mark Boutwell, managing director of PDK Capital Advisors in Atlanta, is handling financing for the project, which has been in the works for several years, but was stalled by the floundering national economy and when one of the developers, Comvest Properties, backed out of the venture in December 2009.  


"The most important thing right now is this project has had a lot of false starts, and we are very pleased by the decisions of the board here tonight," Boutwell said. "Our efforts right now are to sort of cross things off the list and move this thing forward. Tonight was one of those steps to help facilitate that process." 


Neither Nicholas nor Boutwell would speculate on when construction of CottonMill Marketplace might begin.  


Plans for the 25-acre development call for the transformation of Mississippi State University''s E.E. Cooley Building from offices and storage space into a conference center. When renovations are complete, the conference center portion of the Cooley Building would be about 80,000 square feet and renovated office space would take up about 30,000 square feet, according to plans. 


To the south of the Cooley Building, a 70,000-square-foot hotel is planned. It would attach to the conference center.  


Because the development is being designed for mixed use, it also would feature residential units and retail establishments. No potential tenants have been named. Additionally, plans call for a boulevard in the middle of the development, which would be pedestrian and bicycle friendly.  


Boutwell said he has seen some recent "loosening" in the financial markets, which is a good sign for the CottonMill project.  


"There is some loosening in the financial markets," Boutwell said. "We''re seeing some optimism there. I certainly think the hotel market in the local community has strengthened some. This project is going to be pretty instrumental in helping drive some business opportunity for Starkville and the region. That''s the one thing that we''re so excited about."