Mission approves Gateway redevelopment plan, including a Wal-Mart

After years of false starts and delays, the Gateway redevelopment plan for the corner of Shawnee Mission Parkway and Roe Avenue has won approval from the Mission City Council.

The $165 million plan, which includes a Wal-Mart and upscale apartments, was approved in a 5-3 vote Wednesday night.

Approval came after assurances from developer Tom Valenti and real estate lawyer Pete Heaven that the city’s risk had been minimized.

Some dissenting council members, however, said they didn’t like the tax rate that will result from the surcharges on purchases made in the development.

The tax rate on purchases at the Wal-Mart will be 9.65 percent. Others worried that the addition of Wal-Mart and the other retailers would hurt the city’s businesses on Johnson Drive.

About 200 people packed into the Sylvester Powell Community Center to observe the vote and to comment.

Supporters of the project said the vacant land has been an eyesore that speaks ill of the community.

“I’ve been waiting seven years to get something done with this project,” said Janet Fanska, who works across the street. “How much longer do we need to wait?”

But another speaker called the project a “train wreck.” And Aaron Deacon of Mission said it will not be the mixed-use, walkable center that the city had envisioned. He labeled it “another suburban strip mall.”

The project will have 300,000 square feet of retail. Other tenants will include Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, a Sprouts Farmers Market and an Aspen Fitness Center.

Also included are about 300 high-end apartments and a four-level, 2,300-space parking garage.

Developers hope that construction can begin this spring and be completed in 18 to 24 months.

The project got a boost in November when Wal-Mart agreed to be part of a community improvement district that will generate $14 million for development costs.

The retailer earlier had objected to a required surcharge on purchases there.

The agreement now calls for Wal-Mart to add a half-cent tax and other retailers a full penny. Other taxing vehicles will bring the public financing to about $37 million.

Three-quarters of the public share will be financed through bonds that the city won’t have to repay should revenues fall short of projections, said Mayor Laura McConwell.