July 22, 2013 Rotogram: 4

Economic Development

Brent Christensen, executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority, discusses his agency. Stuart Vance will introduce him.

Next Week: Starkville Fire Protection

Rodger Mann, Starkville fire chief, will explain his department that has made possible an improved Class 4 rating for the city. Bill Parrish will introduce him.

For the Record—July 15

Invocation and Pledge:            Giles Lindley

Attendance:                                       56.91%

Present — 104 (34 exempt)

Absent — 74 (11 exempt, 11 honorary)

Makeups reported: Dave Boles in Lisbon, Portugal; Arusha, Tanzania; and, London, England.

Guests: Visiting Rotarian was Joel Clements of Waynesboro. Member guests were Cory Lucius of Michelle Amos, Hal Polk of Joe Bumgardner, Trish Cunetto of Sandra Harpole, Jennifer Usrey of Carrie-Beth Randall and Matt Mathews of Don Trotter. Guests of the Club were Bonn and Robert Camp, Neil Strickland and Alex Holloway of the Starkville Daily News.

Proposed Members

Prentiss M. Gordon, Jr. is a retired Methodist minister who has returned home. Proposed by Debra Hicks, his classification is Clergy: United Methodist.

Joey Deason is the Golden Triangle Development Link’s chief operating officer, and the Oktibbeha County economic developer. Proposed by Steve Langston, his classification is Economic Development.

Cory Lucius is an agent with Shelter Insurance. Proposed by Michelle Amos, his classification is Insurance: Shelter.

Meeting Notes

  • Past-President Paul Millsaps was welcomed back to the club.
  • President Brent complimented Jack Wallace for his coverage in the Starkville Daily News’ Spirit of Oktibbeha feature.
  • Alan Tucker, Community Service Committee chair, presented the club’s Third Place Red Kettle Award for service in the Christmas bell ringing fund raising campaign.
  • President Brent noted that Stu and Mike Vance had to cut short their Alaska tour when she fell and cracked her pelvis.
  • He reported that Hank Mosely was headed home from convalescence at Carrington.
  • And, he conveyed condolences to Past-President Debra in the loss of her uncle.

Membership Action

The board has accepted with regret the resignation of Mehrzad “Mo” Netadj after nearly two decades of membership.

Annual Planning Meeting

Board officers and committee chairs finalized the year’s plans last Monday. Past-President Larry Mullins hosted the group at his home.

Rotary Minute: Ride to Rotary

President Brent introduced the idea of providing rides to meetings for members who cannot drive themselves. He noted that the idea came from another member.

Volunteers can sign up with Secretary Loren Zimmerman at the check-in table.

What Was He Thinking? A Guide to the Cotton District

July 15 — “Why’d he do that?” Dan Camp answered that question about his world-renowned Cotton District housing development with a basic theme: “Because I wanted to.”

The educator turned developer built his first apartment in 1969. Now he has lost count of the number of structures built or renovated in Starkville’s old cotton mill worker village.

Detailing his mode of operation, he explained his early approach to planning and zoning reviews. Forty years ago, a residential lot had to be 10,000 square feet, but he bought many very small lots of 5,000 square feet.

“When I asked the aldermen for a variance, they would say, ‘As long as you stay over there. We don’t want you in any other part of town,’” said the former mayor.

He paid close attention to fitting parking and setbacks to smaller lots. The requests were hard to turn down since they cleaned up the neighborhood.          When he began the Seven Sisters of Maxwell Street project next to the big house on Page Avenue, he told the board that he was going to break all the zoning regulations. Sounding a bit disappointed, he said, “Problem was that nobody got upset.”

As the ultimate example of district development, the Seven Sisters comprise 28 units on one acre. That is about the density of New York City.

The Cotton District has drawn international attention to Starkville with his classically designed structures and housing density management. Architectural groups regularly tour the community.

In 2000, he received the Classic American Award for architecture. He was the first recipient of the national Community Planning Award. The     second recipient was Andrés Duany for Seaside near Destin, Fla.

Although he has spoken at lots of conferences from Princeton to Miami to Belgium, Camp said he had never been asked in Starkville to speak specifically about the District.

Harking back to his early efforts, he credited a number of local business leaders who helped the brash 26-year-old who built his Cape Cod style home on the corner of Critz and Edgewood. Erie Staggers was instrumental in encouraging him in business. Tom Dawkins taught him all about insurance. And, Paul Millsaps’ daddy, chairman of the First Federal board, said, “You know if this fellow is sharp enough to marry the woman he did, he’s sharp enough for us to lend him the money.”

“A lot of people laughed at that crazy guy going over there and buying property. Citizens Reality sold me all their junk,” said Camp. “The District is very dense, but really quite lovely.”

Illustrating his work, he showed then and now pictures of his first four unit apartment. What one sees is a transformation from a functional 1960s contemporary style to the classical style that now brands the District.

After his sons spent two months in Italy, Bonn designed and, with brother Robert, built a sixplex in a classic style on the site of a single house.

Other units that follow the architectural theme include The Hermitage inspired by the Catherine the Great exhibit in Jackson; a raised Greek Revival cottage converted from a typical ranch style; and, Palladio villas, one with a “temple.”

Every two years, the Notre Dame School of Architecture sends a study group, because Camp said, “We are about the only people doing classical work in U.S.”

Showing his own five story Charleston single house in the middle of the development, he drew a contrast with The Snake Pit where his family lived in the 1970s. His wife Gemma affectionately named the dilapidated duplex now supplanted by a Mississippi fourplex.

Building Starkville’s first mixed use structure at the corner of University Drive and Maxwell Street, Camp changed the main thoroughfare between downtown and the university.

Notable is the Rue du Grand Fromage (Big Cheese Street), inspired by a trip to Belgium. With a narrow cobblestoned street anchored by the “Cinderella Castle,” it evokes a vintage European feeling. The concept includes commercial spaces downstairs and dwellings upstairs

In addition to housing, the Cotton District draws between 20,000 and 30,000 people to the annual Arts Festival and Bulldog Bash events.


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