A plan for the mill

Greg Pirkle said he wants it to be less than 50 percent residential.
TUPELO – A Tupelo attorney is working on plans to bring activity back to the old cotton mill in Mill Village.
Greg Pirkle, a partner at Phelps Dunbar, bought the mill, also known as the J.J. Rogers building, last month and is in the beginning stages of planning how to use the 100,000-square-foot space.
The two-story building is near the railroad tracks between Spring and Elliott streets near downtown.
His initial thoughts are to convert it into retail, residential and professional space.
“I would like to have active businesses,” he said, adding that his goal would be to keep the space less than 50 percent residential.
The new ownership comes about a year after a proposed $9 million residential rehab fell through for the building.
Rex Todd, who heads North Carolina-based Todd Development, in 2008 and 2009 tried to obtain state funding toward converting the building into Cotton Mill Lofts. The project called for 48 units with below-market rent, an on-site playground, a computer room, GED classes and washer-dryer combos in each unit.
If the project had received state funding, Todd said the rehab would have been finished by December of this year.
But the funding wasn’t granted and the project didn’t happen, leaving an opening for Pirkle.
“I’ve wanted to have a building down there,” Pirkle said. “When I told my wife I’d been looking at it, it was no surprise to her. She said, ‘Well, you’ve been looking at it the past 10 years.’”
The building was owned by Rogers Realty Co., which is operated by Britt Rogers and the Rogers family. It has been empty since 2007.
“It’s in good condition,” Pirkle said. “The building has had only two major owners – the cotton mill and the Rogers family, which bought it in the 1940s.”
The mill was built in 1901 and spawned the development of what is now known as Mill Village in Tupelo. Pirkle said an addition to the mill was built in 1919.
Pirkle said he is interested in tax credits offered for rehabs to income-producing historic buildings, but he hasn’t decided if he will apply for the program. If he applies, he is required to follow certain design guidelines during the rehab.
He said the building has a “very beautiful interior” and some of the original flooring can be restored. It also has plenty of windows and skylights, he said.
“It’s very promising for restoration, in my opinion,” he said. “In my mind, it’s going to be beautiful. We’ll see if I can do it.”

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

CARLIE KOLLATH / NEMS Daily Journal