Workers have begun constructing a new 15-acre, $40 million student housing project along Blackjack Road that will eventually house about 800 residents.
Michael Augustine, president of Innovative Real Estate Companies, confirmed his organization is developing an area near the Blackjack-Hardy roads that will consist of a two-story clubhouse and six additional four-story apartment buildings.
Each apartment building will have fire suppression sprinkler systems and contain elevators, he said.
Construction should end in the summer of 2016, in time for Mississippi State University’s 2016-2017 academic year.
The Texas-based Innovative is a family of real estate companies engaged in the development, acquisition and disposition of apartments and student housing throughout the U.S. It previously entered the Mississippi market in 2012 with a property acquisition in Oxford.
Innovative chose Oktibbeha County as the site of its next development because scored well with numerous search criteria, Augustine said, including MSU’s growing enrollment and living requirements.
“It was sort of a natural transition given we owned property in Oxford,” he said.
The project is the second of three planned developments that will comprise a tax increment financing (TIF) district in the Blackjack area that will, once initiated, fund infrastructure improvements to the area.
Last year, supervisors unanimously approved the $4.78-maximum financing plan, contingent upon the three developments’ addition to the tax rolls.
Aspen Heights, the first development, opened this year.
The TIF district encompasses 11 parcels that, once developed, should add almost $600,000 to the rolls.
Combined, supervisors also anticipate the projects will generate about $718,000 per year for the consolidated Starkville-Oktibbeha school system.
Blackjack Road, a heavily traveled thoroughfare that links the outlying county area to MSU and Starkville, continuously receives traffic congestion and road quality complaints from area residents. The TIF funding should help with improvements as the county’s road budget, in many supervisors’ own words, always falls short of its total projects list.
But increased development in the Blackjack community has been the target of many residents’ infrastructure complaints. Throughout 2013, residents said they opposed large-scale apartment complexes in their rural neighborhoods and said heavy trucks associated with developments are the cause of many of their roads’ issues.
“(New development) both compounds and alleviates problems, but we hope that the establishment of (Innovative’s project) will eventually do what we need to make the road easier to travel,” said Orlando Trainer, president of the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors.
If the five-person board so chooses, the county could move forward with a smaller TIF district, one that captures tax revenues from the two confirmed projects.
“There may be some things the board can do now to help, but being that the term is as late as it is, I don’t know if we’ll do anything,” he added. “It’s probably best to keep (Blackjack Road) as passable and safe as possible while we wait until (construction work) is all done.”
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch