Mill Village lofts project still in the game

TUPELO – The Cotton Mill Lofts apartment project is still alive after a state agency agreed to reconsider the developer’s funding application.
The Mississippi Home Corp. board initially rejected a request for tax credits toward the $9 million project, which would turn downtown’s J.J. Rogers building into New York-style loft apartments.
But the board changed its mind after meeting Wednesday with state Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, Ward 2 City Councilman Fred Pitts, property owner Jameson Rogers and the developer, Rex Todd, who heads the North Carolina-based Todd Development.
Todd’s company is an affiliate of The Landmark Group, another North Carolina firm with 47 years experience with historic rehabs.
The men persuaded the board to reverse its decision, which had been based on a technical error.
“Their first application was denied, because they left out a picture of a sign notifying them of a public hearing,” Pitts said.
Todd had held the public hearing March 11, and about one dozen residents attended. The hearing was necessary to qualify for tax credits.
Last year, Todd’s company also had applied for but failed to win any of the $4.6 million in housing-tax credits awarded by Mississippi Home Corp. This year, Todd said, some $6.6 million is at stake, and he thinks the project has a chance at winning.
“We’re still in the game,” Todd said. “We’re very hopeful.”
It’s unclear when the agency will announce tax-credit winners, but Todd said a decision could come by the end of the month. Last year, 11 projects had won.
The Cotton Mill Lofts will offer several amenities: below-market rent, an on-site playground, a computer room, GED classes and washer-dryer combos in each unit. It’s similar to the plan pitched last year, except the number of units was scaled back from 64 to 48.
Prices range from $380 for a one-bedroom unit to $601 for a three-bedroom unit, but renters must meet low-income requirements, Todd said.
The development has the support of the city government, the Mill Village Neighborhood Association, as well as other local and state officials.
“An important element of any downtown revitalization is housing,” Nunnelee said. “I think the Cotton Mill project will add to what’s already being done.”
If approved, work would begin immediately and could finish by December 2010.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com. Also read her blog, The Government Grind, at NEMS360.com.

Emily Le Coz