The Gateway development in Mission is close now. So close that developers were able to put up tantalizing pictures of a high-end apartment building and anchor stores for the public to see this week.
But there are some details to be worked out before the first shovel of earth is turned next spring, and they are not minor. The terms of the Tax Increment Financing District and the Community Improvement District are on the top of the work list before the Mission City Council’s next scheduled discussion on the matter on Nov. 27. It’s likely that the final vote will be delayed while those terms are being negotiated, city officials say.
Nevertheless, city officials and developer Tom Valenti of Gateway Developers presented hopeful renderings of the 17-acre project in three open-house style meetings Monday and Tuesday.
The development includes a 151,000-square-foot Walmart store as its main anchor and a 25,000-square-foot Sprouts Farmers Market (a fresh food grocery) and 15,000-square-foot Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill as junior anchors. Other tenants are yet to be announced, but architect Scott Slauggie of Slauggie Architects of Kansas City said there will be more restaurants, some of which are new to the area.
Another big component is a 300-unit apartment building. Valenti described the apartments as “high end” and similar to those on the Country Club Plaza, but perhaps a little less expensive. A two-bedroom apartment of about 1,000 square-feet would be around $1,300 a month, he said.
The project is expected to generate 1,300 construction jobs and 800 new permanent jobs — 300 of them at the Walmart, city officials said.
A project that big takes investment, and some of it will come from taxpayers. Bonds to be repaid fully from tax revenues generated in the development will account for $30 million of the total project costs, or about 18 percent. Another $135 million will come from private financing.
To repay the bonds, the city will set up special sales tax districts, and it is the terms of those districts that are being worked out. One of the big questions being discussed is whether Walmart will participate in a proposed sales tax CID, said Mayor Laura McConwell.
The current CID plan does not include Walmart.
Many of around 35 people who showed up at the public meeting Tuesday evening had questions about the apartments or were simply curious about plans for the area, which has been vacant since the Mission Mall was torn down in 2006.
“It’s long overdue,” said Sandi Russell, owner of Twisted Sisters Coffee Shop a few blocks away from the development. “The city needs to get going and break ground and get this done.”
Russell said the development and increased traffic will be good for the whole area, and may benefit her shop as long as a competing coffee shop doesn’t become a tenant there.
Phil Perry, a former Mission city councilman, had more questions about the public financing but is reserving judgment. “I’m not sold on it yet,” he said. “I’m not opposed to TIFs. My hangup is using TIF for big box stores. Most don’t have a 20-year lifespan and that’s what they are for.” Perry also questioned whether Walmart should escape participation in the CID when other stores were included.
Although another major retailer — Ikea — announced plans for a store just to the west in Merriam, it should not have a negative effect on the Gateway development, McConwell said. According to independent research, an Ikea store will actually be good for the Gateway, she said, because it will take up space that could have been used by competitors.