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MC and Clinton start plans on a mixed-use development
“MC wanted to be a part of shaping the city and helping it to grow in a way that was smart and thoughtful and that fit with the character of Clinton and with the character of the campus.”
Mississippi College students may have noticed trees missing from the land in between Highway 80 and Interstate 20 west of Springridge Road. This is because MC and the city of Clinton are in the process of providing the infrastructure for a mixed-use development for the enjoyment of students and the community. While plans have been in discussion for some time, the preparation of the land for building began this summer.
MC has been in possession of the land for about 100 years. In the past, the MC president’s residence was located on the property. Currently, the football team uses a portion of the land for its practice field. Eventually, the property will be home to businesses of all types— restaurants, shops, professional offices, and perhaps an MC-branded hotel.
Dr. Blake Thompson, MC President, credits the initial idea for this area to Leland Speed, a longtime member of the MC Board of Trustees who died in 2021. His father’s name is on the library.
“He was a dreamer,” said Thompson, “He had a vision for how this property owned by the school could be an asset and could enhance the school and provide some amenities - that was the word he used - that could complement the campus and Olde Towne.”
The next step to Speed’s dream is to build the infrastructure, specifically sewers, water pipes, roads, and electricity. After these are completed, the development can commence. However, the team behind this project wants to stress the importance of laying down a strong foundation and making sure every step is done the right way to prevent future problems.
The development was started because of a project called Campus Master Planning. MC students have seen the changes implemented on campus during the past couple of years. This project led to the closing of the Ratliff, Hederman, and Gunter residence halls and the opening of the Gore Art Complex. The city of Clinton has also undergone several changes. Several new businesses have opened in recent months, including Spring Nutrition, Happy Tea, Cafezinho, and Sonny’s BBQ.
The Campus Master Planning team saw a need to enhance the lives of both students and the surrounding community.
“[Clinton needs] places that people will want to go,” said Thompson. “[MC] wanted to be a part of shaping the city and helping it to grow in a way that was smart and thoughtful and that fit with the character of Clinton and with the character of the campus.”
The mixed-use development will enrich the MC student experience in more ways than one. First, it will give students (and others) a new place to hang out, shop, and eat. Second, the development will provide a new source of revenue to be segmented to the institution, scholarships, faculty, and students. Lastly, it may become a place for graduating students to begin their journey into the workforce. Students who want to open a practice, office, or business may have the opportunity to do so without going very far.
As the vision for this space is being developed, the project team has kept an open mind to the specific businesses that may go into the mixed-use development. Thompson has engaged with students to discover what they would like to see in the future. Several businesses have expressed interest, but final decisions will not be made until further down the road. When the journey reaches the point of making those decisions, it will be important to let the market guide those decisions.
The development, like many before it, has brought together the MC and Clinton communities. Whenever the two have pursued the same goal together, the results have indicated growth of both and enhancement for the future.
“As a Christian institution, we should be thinking about others, the future, what we leave, and how we steward,” said Thompson. “We believe that we are stewards of these resources. Our job is to steward them well so they benefit the most people and our institution for as long as possible.”
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