Even though it’s backed by tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, the Mission Gateway project hit yet another roadblock in recent weeks.
Developer Tom Valenti said he would be unable to begin construction, this time because he still needs to attract another large tenant.
The site of the old Mission Mall, at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Roe Avenue, faces becoming a decade-long blight on the small city.
The public has done its part to push Mission Gateway along: City officials long ago endorsed aggressive incentives that include a higher sales tax to be levied at the project — if it’s ever built.
The lack of progress understandably has disappointed many Mission residents.
Meanwhile, Mayor Laura McConwell — who is not seeking another term this year — has been a longtime supporter of adding new retail and housing with the redevelopment. Her name has surfaced as a candidate for the Johnson County Commission this year in a race that would measure, to a degree, how the delayed Mission Gateway might affect her political future.
Valenti points out that Wal-Mart is still committed to be a part of the project. The company plans to close another publicly subsidized store about a mile away in Roeland Park and open the new subsidized store in Mission.
And in some additional news of concern, the developer recently said 300 apartment units pledged in the latest plan might not get built, at least right away.
Even if new tenants are quickly found, Mission Gateway likely would not be finished until late 2015. Given the project’s history, just don’t bet on that happening.