In the public-private partnership that is The Mill at Mississippi State University conference center complex, the public portion of the agreement is now complete.
The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning signed off Thursday on five key documents for MSU's portion of the agreement, leaving approval from the National Park Service as the only substantial hurdle before construction can begin.
Mark Castleberry, developer for The Mill at MSU, said any other steps remaining on the part of either MSU or the city were minor, such as executing the newly approved IHL documents and issuing building permits.
"Sometimes, the size of the steps is different than the number of steps," Castleberry said. "The IHL (signing off) was significant. We're in the final stretch. Our goal is still within this calendar year."
When completed, The Mill at MSU will bring together a conference center, hotel and parking garage complex, with the site's existing E.E. Cooley Building becoming the conference center. The E.E. Cooley Building is on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), Castleberry said, so approval from the National Park Service that oversaw NRHP was needed before construction could begin. Castleberry said the federal government shutdown, concluded Wednesday, had delayed this approval.
"We have to get a final letter from them, and we believe that will be forthcoming," Castleberry said.