It looks as though Mission Gateway might be getting somewhere

Mission Gateway developer Tom Valenti told the Mission City Council that he hopes to get construction going on the first phase of the project in March.
Mission Gateway developer Tom Valenti told the Mission City Council that he hopes to get construction going on the first phase of the project in March. File photo

It’s been nearly 11 years since the old Mission Center Mall met the wrecking ball with still no development to replace it. Is 2017 the year something finally happens?

Mission residents will know soon enough. Mission Gateway developer Tom Valenti said Wednesday it’s his goal to get construction on the first of three phases underway in March at the 16-acre site at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Johnson Drive.

Valenti appeared at the Mission City Council meeting Wednesday night where elected leaders unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding regarding the development.

It’s a nonbinding agreement, but one that Valenti sought from the city three weeks ago as he prepares to seek final approvals and financing for the $162 million mixed-use project.

“I think it’s important for all of us to get this project started,” Valenti told the council.

As part of the memorandum, Valenti would break ground on the first phase, which involves the construction of 168 market-rate apartments and 50,000 square feet of “small-shop” retail. Valenti said he will build that initial phase without approvals for incentives.

“The reason we did it that way is to get the project started without depending on the bonds,” Valenti said.

A second phase would construct a 150-room Aloft hotel and a 50-room Element extended-stay hotel, along with a restaurant. A final phase contemplates 110,000 square feet of retail development that takes the place of the Wal-Mart that Valenti once proposed but later dropped when it wasn’t received enthusiastically by Mission residents and elected leaders.

For those other two phases, Valenti plans to ask the city for tax incentives, including tax increment financing and a community improvement district. TIF captures new property and sales taxes generated by the project, while the CID adds an additional 1 percent sales tax on purchases within Mission Gateway, which the developer can use to pay for eligible project costs.

Valenti won’t seek general obligation bonds, which means Mission taxpayers aren’t on the hook if the project doesn’t produce enough tax revenue to pay bondholders.

Valenti’s partner in Mission Gateway is Allen Gross, CEO of New York City real estate finance and management firm GFI Capital Resources Group. GFI bought RMwest, a 137-unit apartment development in Kansas City’s River Market, earlier this year.

Mission’s elected leaders, who had not been enthusiastic about Valenti’s previous plans to anchor Mission Gateway with a Wal-Mart Supercenter, seemed welcoming of his latest plans. Valenti still needs a final site plan, building permits and eventually incentives for the second and third phases of the project.

“We as a council are very much encouraged,” said Mission Mayor Steve Schowengerdt.

Steve Vockrodt: 816-234-4277, @st_vockrodt