The Mill at MSU sees official groundbreaking

Public and private partners celebrated the official groundbreaking of The Mill at Mississippi State University last week. The $40-million mixed-use development at the corner of Russell Street and Highway 12 in Starkville is slated for completion in fall 2015. PHOTO: Russ Houston | Public Affairs

Campus and community came together last Thursday to celebrate the official groundbreaking of a $40-million economic development project in "Mississippi's College Town."

The Mill at Mississippi State University features three main projects: transforming a landmark former cotton mill into a conference center and related office space, building an adjacent hotel and parking garage, and developing mixed-use business parcels on the land around the university's old physical plant.

A crowd of several hundred joined university leaders, elected officials and the developer at the historic E.E. Cooley Building, the former home to MSU's Facilities Management operations, for the public event.

At the podium, MSU President Mark E. Keenum noted that "what's good for Starkville and Oktibbeha County is good for Mississippi State University. And vice versa."

"This is a win-win-win for all of us," he said.

The afternoon ceremony was the culmination of a multi-year, collaborative effort by public and private stakeholders to preserve the best of the National Register of Historic Places-listed mill while creating new economic opportunities.

"What we are about to build here will have both immediate and far-reaching benefits for Mississippi State University and for the surrounding area. It will also be a testament to the power of partnerships, without which none of this would have been accomplished," Keenum said.

The 10.89-acre site at the corner of Russell Street and Highway 12 will feature a 73,975-square-foot office and conference center with a 1,000-seat ballroom in the renovated Cooley Building. The Class A office space will include exposed wood beams and columns, open spaces and abundant natural light. Additionally, there will be a new four-story, 110-room Courtyard by Marriott Hotel adjoining the complex, along with a 450-car parking garage.

David Shaw, the vice president for research and economic development at the land-grant institution, credited the outstanding team effort by all of the key stakeholders in moving the development forward.

"This project is a true partnership at so many levels," he said.

Mark Castleberry and Peachtree Hotel Group are leading development of The Mill at MSU with Dale Partners providing architectural services and Copeland & Johns Inc. serving as construction manager.

The National Parks Service, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Development Authority have been integrally involved in the project.

"This is a truly monumental day in the history of our university, our city, our county and the state of Mississippi," Shaw said. "It is a great day of celebration for all of us."

The project is slated for completion in fall 2015.

Jim Laird | Public Affairs

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