IHL Board okays Cooley lease deal

A significant portion of a long-discussed multi-use project adjacent to Mississippi State University got a jump start today as higher education officials approved a lease agreement on a former cotton mill.
The mill – known as the Cooley Building – is a key component of the Cotton Mill Marketplace development planned off Highway 12 within walking distance from MSU.
Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning Board of Trustees approved a plan in which the The Cotton Mill Development Group would buy land neighboring the Cooley Building for $2.8 million and lease the building for $300,000 annually for 41 years, after which time the property will revert to MSU's control, according to a statement issued through MSU late Thursday afternoon.
Crews are to renovate the building and turn it into a conference center and 37,000 square feet of office space. 
The developers will also pay MSU up to $850,000 to relocate operations currently housed in the building, according to the statement.
MSU research centers are expected to lease space in the building. The total project cost will top $64 million.
The facility will be constructed to International Association of Convention Center standards, making it the only center in a three-state region with this designation.
This could great new opportunities for conventions from organizations which need events held in IACC venues, the statement said.
“I am pleased that the IHL board approved our request to move forward with this important project.   This development will afford the opportunity to have a world-class convention center that will support activities on campus and in the community. It will provide a significant economic boost to the entire region," MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum said.

Editor's note: The Starkville Daily News will develop a more detailed story on these developments for print and the website on Friday.