Joco Opinion

Editorial: Gateway plan still uncertain

The Editorial Board

It has been more than a year since we last checked in on the publicly subsidized, long-delayed plan to build a large mixed-use project at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Johnson Drive in Mission.

Here’s the discouraging update.

The Mission Gateway project is still up in the air, frustrating city officials and local residents who have watched this spot sit vacant for the better part of a decade.

Last month, the Mission City Council narrowly backed the newest ideas for the property from developer Tom Valenti.

They aren’t exactly the kind of suburban infill many had hoped for, because the proposal’s largest feature is a Wal-Mart — and it simply would replace one that’s a short jog down the road in Roeland Park.

Valenti still holds out hope that he will be able to attract a few other retailers, some apartments and a hotel to the site.

But the problems he has had over the year in finding tenants for a grander project — it once included an aquarium — have not fully gone away, despite a healthier general economy.

Valenti recently told city officials Wal-Mart is still a “go” for Mission Gateway. That store is being counted on to produce a good amount of the tax dollars that would be poured back into the project to help make it possible.

Some Mission residents are concerned about the large amount of public incentives Valenti is seeking, especially given his years of failure to do much with the land where the Mission Shopping Center once stood.

Mission residents once had high hopes for a vibrant shopping and residential center at their city’s main eastern entrance. The disappointing reality is that a large project with multiple benefits for the community does not seem likely to occur.