Cotton Mill Lofts project abandoned

TUPELO – A $9.4 million project to convert the vacant J.J. Rogers Building into loft apartments collapsed last month, the victim of a tough economy.
Developer Rex Todd, who heads the North Carolina-based Todd Development, said the tax credits he won for the project fell substantially short of the needed amount and that lenders wouldn’t loan the difference.
It didn’t matter anyway, he said, because no one was willing to buy the credits in the first place.
“The tax-credit market situation is such that it’s unfeasible right now, Todd told the Daily Journal on Monday. “I am really quite saddened about it. I had tried for two years.”
Todd said he will not pursue the development deal again.
The decision was news to city officials when questioned by the Daily Journal.
“I had heard about a gap in funding months ago, but I hadn’t heard anything since,” Pat Falkner, the city’s planner, said Monday. “With what’s happening with development and leasing all over the country, it doesn’t surprise me the money’s not there to do this.”
Todd, whose company is affiliated with another firm that rehabs historic properties, had first announced the project in 2007. He proposed renovating the aging structure along Spring Street and turning it into loft apartments for low-income residents.
He had the support of the city and the Mill Village Neighborhood Association, in whose district the building resides.
The project, though, hinged on getting funding through tax credits from the Mississippi Home Corp. After failing to get the credits in 2008, the project finally won them last year.
They were estimated to be worth more than $6.8 million, but apparently they fetched far less.
“The amount of tax credits we were issued for the deal, taking into account the exchange program, were insufficient,” Todd said, “so we stopped.”
Upon learning the news, Mill Village Neighborhood Association President Jane Carruth said she’s disappointed.
“I think it’s going to hurt the downtown area and the affordable housing market as far as this area goes,” Carruth said. “But we’re going to continue to push for Mill Village to improve. We’re not going to let it get us down.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal