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Another luxury hotel to open in downtown Cleveland

Another luxury hotel to open in downtown Cleveland

Posted by: Jack Weatherly in  MBJ FEATUREReal Estate & ConstructionTourism July 24, 2018




The Cotton House. Is there better name for a luxury hotel in the Delta?


Tradition with a wink.


The $17.6 million, 95-room hotel will open early next year in downtown Cleveland, dead center in the region known for the richest soil and earthiest music in the world.


“It’ll be a very high-end product,” said Luke Chamblee, president of LRC2 Properties, whose portfolio contains The Graduate in Oxford and other properties.


Chamblee confirmed that the Cotton House at 223 Cotton Row will carry the Marriott Tribute brand, one of about 40 under that flag in the world.


“We couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with the largest hotel reservation system in the world,” Chamblee said. “This says a lot about the community and the development.”


The Delta influences the  — whether it’s art work, wall coverings, fixtures, furnishing. He and the design team explored the Mississippi Delta for a week. We explored all different parts . . . from hole in the walls to major restaurants like Lusco’s,” Chamblee said in an interview.


“It’ll be good for the immediate market and the whole Delta.”


Cleveland Mayor Billy Nowell said the Cotton House is going to be “a game-changer” for downtown.


Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, said the hotel will “bring a feeling of place to downtown.”


On a practical note, the city cannot accommodate large groups when they come to town, having to send them to nearby towns for lodging, Thigpen said.


Chamblee’s Cotton House Hospitality LLC was approved by the Mississippi Development Authority, through  state law 57-6-1, which could mean roughly a 30 percent reimbursement over a 15-year period, if certain milestones are met.


Chamblee declined to say how much the investment was, but the  Mississippi Business Journal obtained though an Open Records Law request to the Mississippi Development Authority details about the project.


The city approved a tax increment financing, or TIF, district, by which tax revenues from the project  will be diverted to it for a limited time. The bond issue connected with it will yield $2 million toward financing the building of the hotel, according to records provided by the MDA.


Payroll will range from $1.2 million in the first year to $1.5 million in the 10th year, assuming 100 employees throughout that period.


Suresh and Dinesh Chawla, two brothers who own a chain of hotels in the Delta qualified for a rebate of roughly $6 million for their $20 million Scion hotel under construction in west Cleveland, the first of a luxury chain planned by the Trump Organization.


The special legislation benefits both Bolivar County, of which Cleveland is county seat, and Lauderdale County, where Meridian is located.


The Mississippi Grammy Museum, which opened in 2016, and the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, or MAX, are cited as the reasons for the law.


Ascent Hospitality Management of Coral Gables, Fla. Is resurrecting the historic Threefoot Building in Meridian in a $22 million project.


The Chawlas have got what appears to be a really good development as well, Chamblee said of the West End Scion going up in Cleveland that will be owned by the Chawlas and operated by the Trump Organization.


The Cotton House will employ more than 100, with the vast majority of those jobs being full-time, he said.


The the five-story hotel on Cotton Row will have a rooftop bar and will feature a restaurant operated by Cole Ellis, a James Beard Award-winning chef who is the owner and executive chef of the Delta Meat Market in Cleveland.


Also, the hotel will include Balance Fitness Studio and Delta Blue Jean Co.


Probity Constructon of Florence is the general contractor and the architect is the Renaissance Group of Lakeland, Tenn.


LRC2 Properties is also an investor in the Hotel Indigo, which opened last week in Hattiesburg.


The 100-room Indigo is located at 103 S. 30th Ave. near the main University of Southern Mississippi entrance, according to Chief Financial Officer Seth Miles. It will include a full-service restaurant and bar. It likewise was designed by the Renaissance Group.

Downtown Tupelo Selected for National “Refresh” Visit, Aug. 7-8


TUPELO, Miss. – Tupelo will participate in a Community Transformation Workshop with the assistance of a National Main Street Center consultant Aug. 7-8 in downtown Tupelo.  Tupelo was chosen through a competitive application process with the Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA). The two-day workshop will help continue the advancement of the downtown area. 

The workshop provides services to assist the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association to define community-informed and market-driven strategies that can direct and strengthen its revitalization efforts. 

“The National Main Street Center selected Tupelo because Tupelo will be a model program for Mississippi," said Matt Wagner, Vice President of Revitalization Programs, National Main Street Center. "We believe Tupelo will be able to implement the recommendations and demonstrate a measurable impact to be a case study for the other Main Street communities in Mississippi. Downtown Tupelo’s community engagement and enthusiasm will make for a dynamic and successful program!” 
“Tupelo has demonstrated the effective implementation of the Main Street Four Point Approach, and this 'refreshed' Main Street Approach will help the community and Downtown Tupelo identify and build on its greatest economic strengths through targeted community development strategies while continuing to use the Four Point Approach," said Jeannie Waller Zieren, MMSA Director of Training and Marketing. “Our goal is for Downtown Tupelo to have a comprehensive plan to guide their work for the next five years.” 

The visit will involve community input by a pre-visit survey, research on market conditions, specific gaps, and key opportunities that can strengthen the downtown district.

For a workshop agenda and meeting locations, contact Reagan Pepper at or 662-841-6598. For more information on the Main Street program, visit Downtown Tupelo Main Street at, Mississippi Main Street Association at the National Main Street Center at

Mississippi Main Street Association (MMSA) has been improving the quality of life in Mississippi for more than 30 years by developing Mississippi's downtowns. Main Street is an economic development program based in historic preservation. The mission of the Mississippi Main Street Association is to provide visionary leadership, guidance and counsel to Mississippi Main Street communities through organization, promotion, design and economic development to make our cities and towns better places to work, live and play. Since 1993, MMSA has generated more than $5.2 billion in private and public investment (including nearly $1.3 billion in public investment), 36,996 net new jobs, 5,673 net new businesses, rehabilitated 3,298 buildings and added 2,921 downtown residential units. MMSA is a program of the National Main Street Center, with many public and private partners.

Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $71.35 billion in new public and private investment, generated 583,869 net new jobs and 131,974 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 267,800 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  

Laurel named among the 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2018

The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2018

From Oregon Trail stops to Mister Rogers’ original neighborhood, these towns are worth seeing this year


(Photo by Pancho Valladolid/Discover Kodiak)

There’s something about small towns that ignite our imaginations. Maybe it’s the charming main streets lined with century-old structures, now filled with artisan shops and cozy family-owned breakfast eateries, or the meandering rivers that run through downtown centers and majestic mountains that rise in the not-too-far distance, offering access to a world of activity. Or perhaps it’s one-of-a-kind museums, attractions and festivities that are brimming with hometown pride. This year, we’re not only highlighting towns that embrace all these qualities, but those that are also celebrating a milestone anniversary, marking a major historic event, or unveiling a new museum or festival (there’s even one town on the list that’s been completely transformed by a television show) that make visiting in 2018 particularly special


As in the past, we’ve once again turned to geographical information company Esri to help sort through the country’s many small towns (those with a population under 20,000). From there, we compiled a list of 20 that combine historic elements with distinct cultural offerings, natural beauty and everything from the country’s oldest whitewater rafting festival to legendary pirate lore.


Our 2018 list includes the Pennsylvania town that gave us Mr. Fred Rogers, a seaside hamlet that sits at the doorstep of Northern California’s coastal redwoods—the tallest living trees on Earth—and an Idaho resort town that’s been recognized for its clear night skies. Get ready to explore!


Laurel, Mississippi (Population: 18,355)

It’s been just over a year since Erin and Ben Napier, stars of HGTV’s “Home Town,” introduced their beloved Laurel, Mississippi, to the TV masses, and since then this Southern small town with big charm has taken off. Situated in southeast Mississippi’s Pine Belt, the former mill city and oil town is today known for its Oak-lined sidewalks, brick roadways and a splendid mix of innovative restaurants and specialty shops.


Laurel is home to A Street Car Named Desire’s fictional Blanche DuBois, as well as the Lindsey Eight-Wheeled Wagon, which native Mississippian John Lindsey manufactured at the town’s Lindsey Log Wagon Company during the turn-of-the-20th century (one is on display inside the Laurel Welcome Center). It’s also where you’ll find the Napiers’ own Laurel Mercantile, a shop that’s home to Scotsman Co., Ben’s own brand of hand-worked, reclaimed furniture and gentleman’s work apparel, as well as American-manufactured heirloom wares that often feature in the historic Laurel homes the couple restores.


At downtown’s Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, housed in a stunning, early 20th century Georgian Revival structure, works run the gamut from Hudson River School paintings to Japanese woodblock prints. The Laurel Little Theatre puts on community-led plays and musicals within a 1927 silent movie house.


Sip sour beers and “spontaneously fermented wild ales” at Slowboat Brewing Company, or dine on New Orleans-inspired gumbo at downtown’s signature Cafe la Fleur. For brown bag lunches of custom-cut meats paired with Knight Sugar Fudge, stop by Laurel’s Knight Butcher.


Each week through the end of June, experience Downtown Thursday, which combines an evening farmers market with a family-friendly outdoor movie night. Other community events range from October’s Loblolly heritage festival to the February Chili Cook-Off, where one type of ticket for the all-you-can-eat stew comes with a keepsake bowl made by a local potter.

Read more:

Why are these Southern downtowns seeing a rebirth?

Why are these Southern downtowns seeing a rebirth?


Sarah Fowler and Justin Vicory, Mississippi Clarion Ledger


In downtowns across the South, residents and developers are coming together to change the landscape of their communities. From small towns to booming metropolises, downtowns are seeing a rebirth. But why? And maybe more importantly, how?




Although significantly larger in population than many Southern cities, Memphis with its developments often foreshadows overall trends in the South.

Memphis is rapidly expanding its downtown living space. It was recently named by Forbes as one of the top 15 cities in the country for emerging downtowns.

Large companies such as ServiceMaster have relocated to the downtown area, bringing more than 1,500 jobs with them, and the city is in overhaul mode trying to accommodate the influx of workers and residents, said Jennifer Oswalt, president of the Downtown Memphis Commission.

“One of the things these companies are asking for is more residential space downtown for these workers, and we can’t build hotels, or residential space quickly enough,” Oswalt said.


It begins with highlighting the indigenous arts and culture of the city's neighborhoods through art and music festivals. It's a strategy that cities both large and small in Mississippi can benefit from, says retired newspaper editor and reporter Mac Gordon.


"If you're trying to revitalize the downtown, it must include the arts in some fashion or it'll not work. We in Mississippi can do the arts, and they will come to see it if you build it," Gordon said. 


Memphis applied this philosophy to its hip South Main neighborhood, an Arts District with converted 1900s warehouses now home to bars, pubs, restaurants and vintage shops, and also the Edge neighborhood, which converted industrial buildings to residential and commercial spaces and focused on walkability with streetscape and crosswalk beautification efforts.

"There’s a strong effort to tell the tale of the neighborhood, to build a narrative. That attracts visitors but also those who already live here,” Oswalt said.

"We all want Memphis to grow but to grow in an authentic way," she said. 


Baton Rouge


In many ways, Baton Rouge is the gold standard for what can be done to revitalize the downtown area, provided a comprehensive, long-term plan is in place.

The city has attracted more than $2.4 billion in investments over the last 20 years, said Davis Rhorer, executive director of the city's Downtown Development District.

The city is also notable for its quick comparisons to Jackson. Both are capital cities, where the state’s Legislature is encompassed in the downtown area.

In Baton Rouge’s case, the city has merged several state offices into the downtown area. This has increased its population and its commerce, as workers relocated in many circumstances.


Like Jackson, Baton Rouge has an eye toward luring residents downtown.

Two development projects now underway would bring in a total 250 residential units in the Central Business District alone. The city is also poised to bring in its seventh hotel, a full-service grocery, and a bike-sharing program to go along with the addition of bicycle paths downtown. These efforts are accompanied by an emphasis on beautifying the city's green space. 


Additionally, restaurants and services have sprung up along with the car-sharing service Zipcar, which gives workers and residents the chance to rent cars by the hour and day.

“I firmly believe it's important to present stability and predictably. We want the private sector to have the confidence, from the financing to the risk takers, and we are able to show them a before and after picture of Baton Rouge," Rhorer said.




Montgomery, with a comparable population and demographics of Jackson, has succeeded in many areas where Jackson has failed.


Through a public-private partnership, the city brought in minor league baseball team the Montgomery Biscuits and built Riverwalk Stadium downtown. (In Mississippi, Pearl gained the Mississippi Braves and Trustmark Park.) The nearby Riverwalk, which has an amphitheater, increased Montgomery’s traffic flow almost overnight. Efforts are now underway to extend the Riverwalk to the east, said Jocelyn Zangot, Montgomery's urban planner.


Also close by, the city has put energy into beautifying and manicuring a stretch of downtown property known as “The Alley,” where visitors can enjoy bars and the “farm to table” Central Restaurant. 


Elsewhere, Montgomery continues to bring in hotels to accommodate additional traffic to the downtown area and transformed its old civic center into a modern convention center with the 342-room Renaissance Hotel and Spa to host convention visitors.  


Now that the city has had success drawing residents to the downtown area by bringing in a "mixed-range" of market-priced apartments and lofts, Zangot said it's expanding its scope from the Riverwalk to once flourishing inner-city neighborhoods. 


"Getting it back to life has been a fundamental focus, a 20-year process," Zangot said of Montgomery's downtown revitalization effort. "We want to have entertainment, maybe not 24/7, but have an after-work life flowing again. That definitely requires people living downtown and having events, programming for them," Zangot said.  


Small town, Mississippi


Jan Miller, executive director of the Mississippi Main Street Association, said downtowns across Mississippi are growing to meet increasing demand.


She referenced the smaller towns of Columbus, Clinton, Tupelo and Water Valley. 


Tupelo has a zero percent vacancy rate of downtown businesses while the college town of Clinton has seen an increase in foot traffic downtown since it added a locally owned coffee shop. Antique shops, a bookstore and downtown housing soon popped up as well. 


"That little community has grown," said Miller of Clinton.


"It's big and the downtown has thrived since they focused on putting good, solid entrepreneurial businesses into those spaces and really figured out who they were and what they were doing."


Water Valley has seen a revival almost overnight, Miller said. Folks who wanted to live near Oxford but were feeling a strain at the cost of living began moving into the bedroom community. One by one, businesses began popping up downtown, she said, and now, the main drag is home to a brewery, a hardware store and a drug store. It still has the classic feel of a downtown but is also a flourishing art scene. 


Columbus, she said, is an example of what can happen when developers provide a selection of downtown living space. To date, the city of 24,500 has 175 apartments downtown, which is huge for the area, Miller said. 


The apartments, combined with restaurants and a bakery, retail spaces, an art gallery, a spa and law offices, have all contributed to a thriving downtown scene.


"Columbus has been a good example of bringing people downtown, having events, making things happen," she said. 


Barbara Bigelow, executive director of Main Street Columbus, said the downtown apartments have largely contributed to the city's viability. In addition to retail and restaurant options, downtown residents are within walking distance of a YMCA, a riverwalk, soccer complex and a farmer's market. 


"In this day, people are looking for walkability and convenience and these are both key to downtown living," Bigelow said. 


If smaller towns have seen a rebirth of their downtowns, Miller is confident Jackson, the largest city in the state, will have the same success. Transformations can take time, she said, but noted Downtown Jackson Partners has taken the steps to have all of the necessary things — "design, promotion, economic vitality and organization" — in place.


"Once we get those businesses in (downtown), we work really hard to help them stay healthy and people start to realize that downtown is a safe place," she said. "There are so many communities out there that have proven over and over that that can be done. 


"We talk about the heart of the community, well, Jackson is the heart of the state. When we go through this revitalization of our No. 1 city in the state, it will affect everything that we do. It starts right there in Jackson."


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Ocean Springs, a town with a reputation as an “arts community” has several art galleries and was hometown to the late Walter Inglis Anderson, a nationally renowned painter and muralist.

Mississippi Main Street Association
P.O. Box 55747 | Jackson, MS 39296
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