Renovation of the inside of the old historic Cotton Gin in Olive Branch is about halfway finished and developers say the restaurants and bars should be ready to open this spring.
“We are getting closer,” said Cliff McLemore. “We have made a lot of progress inside and outside.”
McLemore is transforming the historic structure into an event center that will have two air B&Bs along with food, drinks, entertainment, and live music both inside and outside.
“We have 2 Crazy Fellas lined up to come here and we’ve been talking to someone who is going open up an Irish pub,” McLemore said. “We will have a distillery inside, Old Town Taco, and I have what I call a martini liquor bar that is also going to be inside.”
McLemore said he has also added a bourbon bar in the basement of the gin.
“Originally I was going to fill in the basement but decided it would be better suited for a private club,” McLemore said. “So we are going to have a little bar area there, kind of like a little speakeasy for members only.”
The development also envisions two apartment buildings that will have close to 40 units available.The plan originally called for two container car style restaurants, but McLemore said they have altered the design slightly.
“The city was a little concerned that if we did that, others would want to do containers,” McLemore said. “The cost of containers has gone up and the price of wood has gone down. So it is just as cheap and easy to do conventional construction. We are still going to build the buildings modular like that to give it the look of railroad car containers.”
McLemore said they already have the layout done on the Irish pub and 2 Crazy Fellas and should start constriction soon.
“We should be turning them over in February,” McLemore said. “So we will probably be starting their buildings in about three to four months.”
McLemore said they have also been busy with work on the outside of the development. They recently moved the statute of Chickasaw Indian Chief Lush-Pun-Tubby, which was in the parking lot at the cotton gin, to the empty slab near where Polly’s used to be directly across from the Wesson House so they can create more parking. Lush-Pun-Tubby was a warrior who owned the land which was purchased by the early settlers who established Olive Branch.
The area will become a small food truck park with plans to build more permanent structures for even more shopping and dining.
“Moving Lush-Pun-Tubby was a big deal,” McLemore said. “We bought that empty slab and I’m getting ready to put some plans together on that, maybe a small restaurant and a couple of shops. The statue is better suited on that corner lot. He is very visible from Goodman Road and Pigeon Roost Road, much more so than in the past when he was in the middle of the parking lot.”
McLemore also unveiled a new name for the development. The area around the old Cotton Gin will be called “Ole Town Parish.”
“We haven’t renamed Old Towne,” McLemore said. “Old Towne Parish is our development, the four lots and the Cotton Gin.”
McLemore said they wanted the development to stick out and selected the name to fit in with the New Orleans-style architecture.
“Since the entire Old Towne is not in the entertainment district, we felt it would be better suited with its own name, kind of like “Silo Square” or “The Grove.” We looked at a number of different names, but since the cotton gin building has that charisma of a New Orleans nuilding, we decided to go with Old Towne Parish.”