‘Top Chef’ judge plans food hall at Mission Gateway, which owes $2M in property taxes

After about a dozen years of false starts, Mission Gateway has landed a “Top Chef” to boost the project.

Tom Colicchio, a James Beard Award-winning chef and head judge and Emmy Award-winning executive producer of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” is planning his first food hall at the Mission development.

Colicchio is teaming up with GFI Development Co., New York, along with Mission Gateway developer Cameron Group LLC, on the 40,000-square-foot food hall, which will “bring together nationally acclaimed chefs and restaurants and local artisanal purveyors,” according to the developers.

It also will have a “social recreation venue” with table tennis, billiards, shuffleboard and bocce, as well as leagues and tournaments, corporate events, a live concert venue and rotating art installations. Future plans call for outdoor spaces.

In an interview with industry publication Restaurant Hospitality, Colicchio called food halls the “future of dining.”

“I thought it was about time we dipped our feet in that pool,” he said in the article. He put the opening in 2020.

Food halls are popping up across the country. In the metro, Lenexa Public Market has a food hall along with a retail marketplace, and food halls are planned for the Crossroads and the Country Club Plaza.

Tom Valenti, principal developer with Cameron Group, said Colicchio is a great endorsement to Mission Gateway.

“It really makes it a regional destination, drawing people from a long way,” Valenti said. “Everything is going to work really well together — hotels, 170 apartments, great entertainment.”

Colicchio is the chef and owner of New York-based Crafted Hospitality, which currently includes New York’s Craft, Riverpark and Temple Court; Craft Los Angeles; and Heritage Steak and Craftsteak in Las Vegas.

The chef couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday. But once news broke about his plan, people shared it on Twitter, with one person posting “ good luck in the conservative Midwest ... might want to rethink.” To which Colicchio replied: “Everyone eats.”

GFI Development Co. LLC has developed more than $1 billion of retail, hospitality residential and office real estate since it was founded in 2007.

The $200 million, mixed-use Mission Gateway project has languished since 2005 but could have a groundbreaking this summer.

Plans call for nearly 55,000 square feet of new first-floor retail space fronting Johnson Drive and Roeland Drive in the first phase. A second phase would have two hotels and a third phase calls for a 75,000-square-foot office building, the food hall and entertainment.

“Obviously this project has taken much longer than anticipated but at the end of the day I think this is a project worth waiting for,” said Mission Mayor Ron Appletoft. “It’s going to be great. I think it will be a metro-area draw. I think it is going to be something we will really be proud of.”

The development plans have changed several times over the years, from condominiums to an office center with an aquarium component to a Walmart.

“The condominium financing market totally evaporated. And at one time the focus was going to be on the junior box tenants, we were dealing with Barnes & Noble and Borders, and that market evaporated,” Valenti said. “Landing Colicchio will really boost the 55,000-square-foot retail leasing. But when it is all said and done, we have to show people instead of talking about it.”

Johnson County records also show the developers are delinquent several years on taxes for the Mission Gateway property. They owe $1.34 million from past years and $773,458 this year, for a total of $2.1 million owed.

Appletoft said past due taxes need to be paid before a building permit is issued.

“That’s an old issue. We dealt with it in the development agreement and we fully understand we have to get those paid before we start construction and at the time we have our construction loan,” Valenti said.

The Star’s Lynn Horsley contributed to this story.