Mission Gateway project held up while developer adds retail space, gets bids

12/18/2013 9:49 PM

12/18/2013 9:49 PM

Progress on building the Mission Gateway project has slowed while the developer expands the retail portion, awaits suitable construction bids and considers seeking additional financial help from the city.

Developer Tom Valenti now plans an additional 75,000 square feet of retail space in the project. He will combine two sites reserved for smaller buildings on the southwest corner of the 26-acre site at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Roeland Drive and put up a single 115,000-square-foot structure for multiple tenants.

“We’re finishing up leasing with potentially new and different tenants,” he said. “That’s been part of the holdup. Everything is taking far longer that I thought.”

Valenti also said his contractor, Crossland Construction, is still in the bidding process with subcontractors.

Valenti’s firm, the Cameron Group of Syracuse, N.Y., has been pursuing the $165 million Gateway development in northeast Johnson County after purchasing and demolishing the former Mission Center property in 2005.

After signing Wal-Mart as the anchor retail tenant and winning city approval for a $37 million incentive package, the Cameron Group began site preparation work in August. The Gateway development plan at that time called for 300,000 square feet of retail, 300 upscale apartments and a 2,300-space garage.

Foundation work had been expected to begin by now, but Valenti said it has been delayed by the decision to build a larger retail building and the continuing process of achieving an acceptable guaranteed maximum on construction costs. Utility work is expected to begin in March.

Valenti also said increasing costs may prompt him to seek additional tax incentives from the city, but no decision has been made.

The $37 million incentive package approved by the Mission City Council includes $6 million for previous storm sewer work, $1.5 million for administrative costs and $30 million for development costs. The revenue would be generated by a special half cent surcharge on sales and tax increment financing.

The original timetable announced in August called for the 150,000-square-foot Wal-Mart at the corner of Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue to open in spring 2015 along with some other stores. Other announced retail tenants include Toby Keith I Love This Bar & Grill, Sprouts Farmers Market and Aspen Fitness Center.

The apartments are scheduled to open in the summer of 2015. Valenti said the units will be served by Google Fiber.

Mayor Laura McConwell of Mission said she was disappointed that building work had not begun yet but added the developer is current on his obligations to the city.

As to how the city would respond to any request for additional financial help, McConwell said Mission would be willing to listen.

“If and when they make the ask, we’ll consider it,” she said. “It would depend on what it is they’ll do and the added value it would bring to the project. There will be questions that will be asked.”

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