By BRIAN HAWKINS
Another financing component for the Cotton Mill Marketplace project is in place following action by the Starkville Board of Aldermen in a special meeting Tuesday night.
The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to adopt a resolution authorizing the execution of a development and reimbursement agreement between the city and the Cotton Mill Development Group LLC to facilitate the implementation of the tax increment financing (TIF) plan for the Marketplace project.
The same resolution also authorized the execution of an interlocal agreement between the Board of Aldermen and the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors for the financing of infrastructure improvements related to the project.
Both boards in June 2008 adopted the TIF plan to issue up to $8.5 million in bonds to finance certain infrastructure improvements — including vehicular entrances and exits, curbs, gutters and drainage mechanisms — for the Marketplace site, which is bordered by Russell Street and the Cotton Crossing shopping center to the north, Highway 12 to the east and south and Spring Street to the west.
Centered around the former Stone Cotton Mill — now known as Mississippi State’s E.E. Cooley Building — the Cotton Mill Marketplace project will see the Cooley Building converted into a conference center anchored to a 150-room hotel with a restaurant.
The project will also see construction of multiple mixed-use buildings housing retail, office, restaurant and commercial space, as well as a second movie cinema.
The state College Board recently approved the lease agreement for the Cooley Building, and CMDG officials said at that time that additional components of the financing package were being put together to move the project forward to a construction phase.
Under the agreements executed by the aldermen Tuesday night, TIF bonds would be issued to reimburse the developer for the actual cost of infrastructure improvements at the Marketplace site once the commercial properties began yielding both sales tax and city and county ad valorem tax revenue.
The bonds must be issued within a 5-year-period and have a maturation period of no more than 15 years.
“They have to build it to be reimbursed,” said City Attorney Chris Latimer to the Board of Aldermen.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk noted that the TIF bonds will not be coming from any existing funding source within the city budget and that city’s liability for the bonds is “very low.”
Attorney Lucien Bourgeois of Jackson, who is serving as attorney for the CMDG, said the approval of the TIF plan will help the Marketplace developers complete the financing package for the project.
Some bonds for the project — not the TIF bonds — must be issued by the end of the year, Bourgeois said after Tuesday night’s less-than-10-minute meeting.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said the approval of the agreements by the Board of Aldermen is “another positive step for the project.”
“Progress is being made on the overall financing package that’s being put together,” Wiseman said.
The Board of Aldermen also unanimously approved appointing City Engineer Edward Kemp, Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas and Wiseman to a selection committee making recommendations to the full board on the architectural/engineering firm and construction company for the parking garage for the Marketplace project, which is to be funded through a Community Development Block Grant.
In other business Tuesday night, the Board of Aldermen:
• Accepted and authorized implementation of a $106,800 alternative fuels grant for the conversion of a fleet of city, county and MSU vehicles to an alternative fuel use program.
• Approved the minutes of its Oct. 19 recess meeting.
The Board of Aldermen next meets at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 7 in the City Hall courtroom.