Category Archives: Retail

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Restaurant Tax’s Future Up In Air

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Robert Smith and Harry Sanders – Courtesy photo

The fate of the joint Lowndes/Columbus 2% restaurant tax is currently being hotly debated, as it is due to expire at the end of June. It normally brings in about $2 million per year in tax revenue from restaurants that make over $325,000 per year in prepared food and beverage sales. One of the primary issues that caused the tax’s renewal to die in committee a few weeks ago was the debate over whether the $325K floor should be in there at all; without it, all restaurants would be assessed the tax; another is whether the city of Columbus should simply go ahead and assess its own version of the tax, should the State fail to reinstate it sometime soon. The tax revenue goes primarily to fund tourism, parks and economic development.

“My thing is that if our legislators aren’t going to take out the ($325,000) floor, we’d be crazy to send anything down there that says otherwise,” Columbus Mayor Robert Smith said. “Two-million dollars is at stake here. That’s what we have to remember. So if the only way to get this tax back in place is to have the floor, that’s what we would have to do. If that means the county isn’t a part of it, that’s their decision.”

Should the city move forward with its own tax, it may mean changing how the existing Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau’s is funded; the new tax, in this case, would provide said funding in lieu of the old one. Mayor Smith remarked that “[W]ith [CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter’s] contacts and experience, we’d be foolish not to use that. . . We’d have to do something about the board because if it were to be city only, we’d need a board with [only] city people on it. But as far as running tourism, I still think the CVB is the best way to do it.”

The county, in contrast, wants to remove the “floor” on the tax, but keep it the way it was – a joint county/city tax. Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said, “The county has as much interest in tourism as anybody. . . We want to keep it exactly as it is, with the tax in place like it’s always been. … The only difference is taking away the floor because having that floor doesn’t make any sense. That’s been our position all along and I don’t see any reason why it would change.”

As it stands, if the tax is allowed to die later this year, any reinstatements or changes will have to wait until the Legislature reconvenes next January; this would mean losing out on a year or more of tax revenue. While it is theoretically possible to get a short-term, one-year version of the tax added to an upcoming State special session, it seems that it is unlikely that a local tax would be able to get onto the agenda at such a meeting.

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Please click here for a Dispatch editorial on this topic.

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6th Annual Restaurant Week Charities Announced

Starkville – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Partnership revealed the three charities that will be eligible to win up to $5,000 from Cadence Bank during the sixth annual Restaurant Week later this month.

Jennifer Prather (courtesy photo)

Partnership Director of Tourism Jennifer Prather has announced that The Partnership has selected this year’s charities who will be receiving grants based on patronage during Restaurant Week, later this April: Christian World Missions, the Oktibbeha County Humane Society and the United Way of North Central Mississippi. These were selected from a pool of nominations sent in by the community. During Restaurant Week, patrons at certain restaurants will be given the opportunity to “vote” for one of the three charities; the winning charity will receive $5,000 from Cadence Bank; 2nd Place will receive $1,000; the last will receive $500.

Restaurant week is set for April 22-29. “During that time, we encourage the community and visitors to eat out as many times as they can,” Prather said. “Every time they eat out at a participating restaurant, they can cast their ballot for a participating charity of their choice . . .We encourage everyone to be ready on April 22-29 to eat out as much as they can and help these organizations share the message of the work they’re doing and to get everyone excited about them,” She went on to say.

Partnership CEO Scott Maynard said Restaurant Week stated that both local restaurants and local charities benefit from the arrangement: “I think it’s graduated to the point where people recognize it now and really look forward to not only participating in the nomination process, but also through the thousands of votes we receive from people dining out each year,” he said.

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Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Neighborhood Popup Soup Kitchen Helps Local Children

Columbus – Courtesy of The Dispatch

A group of generous locals have recently begun handing out food to those in need at 14th Ave & 20th St, not far from the Boys & Girls’ Club. They set up shop on Monday afternoons at around the time school lets out; they try to have about 50 meals made each week, and it’s all paid for out of their own pockets, plus the occasional donation.

Shannon Scott gives Leon Brewer a sandwich on 14th Avenue Monday afternoon. A different member of the group supplies the food each week.
Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

“It’s free, baby,” Willie “Sweet” Scott assured a young girl and her two siblings as he and his friend Charles Clemmons saw to it they each had evertything they needed.

“It was set up kind of for the kids, but we don’t turn away (any)body,” Clemmons said. “I wouldn’t want to miss somebody, tell somebody, ‘No you’re too old.’ That may be his only meal. People (are) hungry sometimes coming through the neighborhood.”

The group sets up their stand on Mondays from 3-5 p.m. where they give away whatever they’ve prepared that week.

“I’m just happy to be out here doing what I can and kind of helping,” fellow volunteer Shannon Scott said. “Of course, you run into all sorts of characters. You got your ones who want something for nothing and then you’ve got people who come and you know they really need it. They make it all worth it.”

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MSU Breaks Ground on College View Project

MSU Breaks Ground on College View Project

Starkville – Courtesy of The Dispatch

From left, Vice President of Real Estate Development at EdR Mark Grambergs, EdR President Tom Trubiana, Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill, EdR CEO Randy Churchey, Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Mississippi State Institutions of Higher Learning board member Walter Starr and Executive Vice President and COO of EdR Chris Richards break ground on the new student housing site, College View, Monday. The housing complex and day care is expected to open in the summer of 2019. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

Work has officially begun at Mississippi State University for a mixed-space residential project that will be the first of its kind in the state. The university held a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday for the College View project, which is to be located at the location of the old Aiken Village apartments before they were torn down.

MSU President Mark Keenum said College View will have 656 beds, 46,000 square feet for retail and a new 7,000 square-foot day care center; if all goes according to plan, it will be complete by summer of next year.  He stated that the facility will provide much-needed housing for Seniors, as well as a convenient retail space: “This project is a bridge, a connector if you will, from the city onto our campus,” Keenum said. “It’s going to benefit this university, no doubt, but it’s definitely going to benefit Starkville. I always say what’s good for Mississippi State is good for the city, and what’s good for the city is good for Mississippi State.”

EdR CEO Randy Churchey said during Monday’s ceremony that he’s excited for the project, and that future planned expansions should bring the total  total housing capacity to around 1,800 beds: “I can really see this area being the area where alumni come back on game days, (or) come for graduations, and really be a gathering spot for alumni and students and faculty for all those special occasions that happen on college campuses,” Churchey said. “Other institutions are looking at this endeavor with, I hope, envy and jealousy. And they’re probably going to try to copy it one day,” he said. “But you guys were the first to get this accomplished, and we’re going to uphold our end of the bargain and get this building built. It’s going to be fantastic for the students, alumni, the city and the university.”

 

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WAUKAWAY SPRINGS BUILDING TO BE RENOVATED

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

The Waukaway Springs Bottling Company is in the process of restoring its College Street warehouse building to as close to its original look as possible.

Jataune James sorts and cleans bricks at Waukaway Springs in Columbus Tuesday afternoon. Waukaway Springs is being restored to its former look. The building formerly housed Brown Buick Company. Photo by: Deanna Robinson/Dispatch Staff

Stephen Imes, Waukaway Springs president and owner, said, “Right now, we have the mindset of taking it back to what it looked like in the 40s. We really just want to bring it back to its former glory.” He stated that the interior wil lbe renovated and repaired, and some remodeling will be done to the exterior; in addition, extensive repairs will be done to the roof, which was beginning to cave in. Among the fixes will be structural reinforcements, such as replacing old wooden beams with steel ones.

He went on to say that they have been reclaiming as much of the original building materials as possible, and that they plan to re-use them as part of this project: “Several different types of brick have come out of this process,” Imes said. “We have seen a variety of manufacturers’ work, and we plan to use as much of it as we can.” He said that his  employees are sorting and cleaning every brick by hand in the warehouse for reuse.

“We did have a picture of the Brown Buick Company to base our renovations off of,” Jim Buck Vaughan, the project contractor said. “But it’s mainly making sure we update the building, without making it entirely too modern to where it does not match the other buildings in the area.”

The building is expected to reopen in about three months, or early summer.

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Cajun Food Place Coming Soon to Columbus

 

Cajun Food Place Coming Soon to Columbus

Developer Mark Castleberry confirmed a Cajun seafood restaurant is coming to old Chili’s site on Highway 45 – Photo by Deanna Robinson

 

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of TheDispatch

Hungry for some real Cajun food? Here’s hoping it will succeed where Chili’s Tex-Mex failed – literally!

Local developer Mark Castleberry, recently purchased the old vacant Chili’s property and building on Hwy45. He says that Umi owner Billy Wang will open up the new venue sometime in the next few months; the plan is to open for business by June. A formal press conference will be held in the future.

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Construction on New Burger King Underway in Starkville

Courtesy of the Starkville Daily News – STARKVILLE, MS

 

Starkville will soon be getting another place to get some good grub. A new Burger King location has begun construction at 409 Highway 12 East, next to a local Hardee’s restaurant.

A new Burger King is under construction on Hwy 12 next to Hardee’s – Photo Credit – Mary Rumore, SDN

City of Starkville records state that the building is owned by Cambridge Franchise Holdings out of Bartlett, Tennessee. The contractor for the project is Venture Construction Company out of Franklin, TN. The project’s value is estimated at about $950,000.

Construction for the project began Jan. 8. No opening date has yet been announced.

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Slim Chickens Coming to Starkville

Director of Operations for Slim Chickens, David Bagwell said. “We have had college towns on the radar ever since we started this plan to develop into Mississippi,” Bagwell said. “The reason we are developing in Mississippi is because we’re Mississippi native folks and we love the brand and what the brand stands for and we felt like it would do really well here.”

They plan to make minimal changes to the building’s layout, leaving it as a “plain and simple” design. They anticipate whitewashed oak slats on the walls, with a white interior and an exposed ceiling: “It’s very open and airy feeling,” Bagwell said. “It’s just a nice easy going environment to enjoy.”

He went on to say that “We’re local people, we’re going to hire local people and try to affect a positive change in their life and our customer’s lives by being here each and every day providing that good hospitable service that people want.” Bagwell said. “That’s what we look to do when we go into a community.”

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The Latest News On Businesses New and Old…And New Again!

The Latest News On Businesses New and Old…And New Again!

COLUMBUS/STARKVILLE – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Old 82 Restaurant in downtown Columbus has announced that they are planning to reopen as Old 82 Restaurant and Steakhouse. They will be located at the prior location of the Front Door/Back Door restaurant, located at Catfish Alley & Main Street. Permits allowing, they hope to be open early next week.

Planet Fitness has opened a new location in Leigh Mall.

In Starkville, BlackFish Exotics (formerly Starkville Pet Store) is in the process of revamping in order to cater more to tropical pet fans, including tropical fish and reptiles, among others. Chris Rego, the new owner, said, “Really our only ‘rival’ is in Tupelo . . . We want to be the best we can be in our market.”

Walmart Neighborhood Market has now opened a new location in Starkville, bringing a hundred jobs to the area.

 

In sadder news, Starkville’s On Fleek Eyebrow Threading will only take clients on an appointment basis. The sister-store, Tiara Eyebrow Threading was located in Leigh Mall in Columbus, and is closed until further notice. To make an appointment at the Starkville location, call 662-213-1037.

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Plans for Downtown Hotel Renovation Await Only Regulatory Approval

Plans for Downtown Hotel Renovation Await Only Regulatory Approval

COLUMBUS – Courtesy of The Dispatch

Former New Stone Hotel – Dispatch file photo

Plans for a complete renovation of the old New Stone Hotel and The Arcade Hotel building have been completed and submitted to the City for review and approval. The current owners, developers Tommy Howard and Chris Chain, purchased the century-old property in 2016 from Susan Mackay and her brother, Wayne Price. They plan to restore the now dilapidated building to its former glory as a mixed-use development.  Chain said. “Once we get the building permit, we can move forward and start working on the rebuild.”

Columbus Building Official Ken Wiegel said the documents presented will be reviewed thoroughly before a building permit is granted.  Now that the plans have been submitted, the city building department and fire department will review them, which generally takes up to 10 business days,  unless concerns are raised during the review. Once this process is complete, a permit can soon be issued.

Chris Chain, left, and Tommy Howard

The two buildings were first constructed in 1905, and they have since hosted hotels, an auto parts store, a children’s clothing store, a print shop, and the first Party and Paper location. The structures had been in Mackay’s family until 2016.

Chain owns Renovations of Mississippi Inc., and Howard has restored downtown buildings, including 208 Fifth St. S., just down the street from the hotels.

Please click here to download/view a PDF file of the plans for the hotel.

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