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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – A local developer is breathing new life into a project that has been on the drawing board for several years.

The latest version of the Cotton Mill Project in not quite as ambitious as its predecessor.  Since its original conception in 2008, the now “Mill Project” has been scaled down quite a bit. But after months of planning the new devevoper is excited about breaking ground and he assures me it will happen this year.

Former Starkville Mayor and developer Dan Camp says, “When I was the mayor and we were approached with it, they were talking in terms of a $200 million project, which there aren’t many $200 million projects in Mississippi.”

Dan Camp has been a leading developer in Starkville for more than 4 decades. He looks forward to making progress. Since its original conception in 2008, the project has been scaled down to $40 million, roughly one-fifth of its original cost.

Other than a few businesses locating to the area and some demolition the Cotton Mill Project has been at a standstill for several years. The “Mill” Project is expected to be done in phases.

Mark Castleberry with Castle Propertiessays, “Phase I will be the construction of 110 room Courtyard Hotel. Similar to the one in Columbus underway right now. Also a part of that phase will be a parking garage.”

Others parts of Phase I will include the cleaning out of any historic buildings, and the creation of streets, lights, water and sewer lines.

Renovation of the Cooley Building will have to wait until Phase 2, at the earliest.

According to Castleberry, “The only reason it’ll probably be lagging, the rest of the project being a historical building and on the National Registry we have to have approval through many levels.”

After MSU approval, The Mississippi Department of Archives and History will have to sign off on the Cooley Renovation plans. From there, they will make their way to the National Parks Service. But it’s the convention center and hotel that are expected to have the biggest impact.

Castleberry says, “Not having a conference center has really been a detractor. So financially the benefit of having the conference center I think is going to be significant.”

According to Camp, “I think anything you do like a that in terms of conferenceing is going to make our city buzz more than in the past.”

Castle Properties is expected to break ground on the “Mill Project” at its earliest by mid August of 2013.

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