Mission Gateway developers are back with a new $268 million plan for the long-vacant site at the junction of Johnson Drive, Roe Avenue and Shawnee Mission Parkway.
The prominent 16-acre lot — the one-time site of the Mission Mall — remains vacant after 15 years and several attempts at redevelopment, including the most recent effort that developers say fell through due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That redevelopment agreement, inked in 2017, expired on Dec. 31 because the project had not reached a requirement to be substantially completed by that time.
Mission Mayor Sollie Flora said the city is now “in the unenviable position of being back to some version of square one” with Mission Gateway.
“I think it is important and fair to acknowledge that I think there is a level of frustration and disappointment from both the council and our constituents about these false starts and long delays this project has experienced over the years,” Flora said Wednesday at a city council work session.
New York-based developer Tom Valenti said he and his team have been just as frustrated over the years. Still, Valenti said the developers are committed to finishing the Mission Gateway project.
Valenti assured the council on Wednesday the project will be seen to completion because he’s personally invested in it and wants to get something back for himself and his business partner. Additionally, he said he wants to keep his word to the community.
“The highest priority for me is the fact that I promised people on the city council, prior members of the city council and people who have become my good friends in Mission over 15 years that we were going to see this project to completion in a way we can all be proud of,” Valenti said.
Smaller food hall, more apartments
The latest plan includes the same core features as the previously approved — and now expired — redevelopment plan, including an apartment complex, a food hall, an entertainment center, office space and a hotel.
But Andy Ashwal, who has been a partner developer with GFI, said plans for the food hall are now scaled back and some other small retail shops have been removed.
Previously, the food hall was projected to be 40,000 square feet but will now be somewhere between 10,000 to 15,000 square feet with anywhere from 10 to 15 food stalls, Ashwal said.
Developers are also asking for a 2% additional sales tax instead of a 1% additional sales tax in the Community Improvement District to make up for the decreased retail space.
An apartment building would sit above the food hall, at the corner of Johnson Drive and Roe, Ashwal said.
Additionally, the number of apartment units has more than doubled from the 2017 plan from 168 units to 372 units.
Ashwal said 20% of those units will be reserved for affordable housing using three different average median income percentages for studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments.
Two-phase construction timeline
The new plan calls for the project to be completed in two phases rather than all at once.
Phase one — which, at this point, is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2022 —includes construction of the residential apartments, food hall and small shop retail complex.
Like the food hall, retail will be located on the ground floor of a second apartment building.
Residential, retail and the food hall are now set to be completed by the third quarter of 2025, according to a schedule in city documents.
The parking garage and Cinergy entertainment center will also be completed during this phase. These aspects of phase one are to be completed by the third quarter of 2023, according to city documents.
Phase two includes the construction of the office and hotel.
Hotel construction is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022 and office construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2023, according to city documents. Both are to be completed by the third quarter of 2025.
Matt Valenti, another developer on the project and Tom’s son, told the city council Wednesday that chef Tom Colicchio, a New York restauranteur and judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef” TV show, is still involved in conversations about the food hall, but Valenti did not confirm whether or not Colicchio will still be curating the food stalls at Mission Gateway.
Matt Valenti added that Spanish Gardens, a local Mexican food manufacturer, wants to open a restaurant in some of the retail space at the corner of Roeland and Johnson Drives. The hotel will be a Marriott, he said.
The Mission City Council will consider the new pre-development agreement for Mission Gateway at its Feb. 16 city council meeting.
The predevelopment agreement states developers will pay for legal or consultant fees for the city during negotiations for the redevelopment agreement.
This agreement does not obligate the city to approve developers’ plans for Mission Gateway, nor approve any potential incentives for the project.