Plans are moving forward for the Marty Stuart Center as an architect has been hired to assist with the renovation of the historic Coca-Cola building which will serve as a warehouse in connection with the project.

E. Bowden "Skip" Wyatt, of Foil Wyatt Architects & Planners PLLC, was chosen to design the warehouse which will house items from Stuart's collection as they are changed throughout the year at the center.

The Industrial Development Authority of Neshoba County was granted ownership of the building last year. IDA is administering $1 million in state monies awarded by the legislature in conjunction with the center which would house Stuart's vast collection of Country Music memorabilia, including some belonging to such stars as Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams Sr.

Once the renovation of the Coca-Cola building is complete, the remaining monies could be used to help purchase a suitable building to house the actual center.

Community Development Partnership President David Vowell said items from Stuart's collection would be changed from the warehouse to the museum in order to attract visitors on a continual basis.

Vowell said a cost estimate on the renovation project was significantly less than $1 million.

A board, composed of five to seven people, is now needed for the project to move forward, he said.

With an architect chosen the next step is to hire an engineer and then bid out the work.

While officials have looked at several buildings to house the proposed center, a final decision has not been made.

The Marty Stuart Center stems from the Mississippi Country Music Commission which called Stuart's collection "a living history of Country Music" which would be "the heart of a center" in Philadelphia.

Stuart, a Neshoba County native, said the center would be a combination of a museum, theater and classroom.

While the center would house the collection, the theater would be for small performances.

The classroom was described as a place for "oral histories."