Mission Gateway developer asks to delay sales tax collection; city says project moving forward

MISSION, Kan. -- City officials are adamant that work is going to start soon on the Mission Gateway project, and when they consider a delay Sept. 19, it doesn't mean residents are going to have to wait another 12 years for something to happen. 

"They'd be moving dirt today if it wasn't raining," said Assistant City Administrator Brian Scott. 

Scott said nothing is changing in the long-awaited project. 

"The only thing that's being delayed is the implementation date for the sales tax," Scott said. 

Developer Tom Valenti is asking the Mission City Council to change the start date to collect sales tax revenue from the project from January 1, 2019, to July 2020. 

Some on the council are cautious, considering how many times Valenti has delayed the project over the years. 

"He's wanting to go out a little bit to see if he can't be more upfront, if you will, about collecting the sales tax when tenants are present, and he's had some time to see how generated revenues come out," council member Debbie Kring said, who is comfortable with the idea. 

By 2020, Scott said phase one, the apartments, will be completed and generating sales tax. There is no way anything will be built by January 1, 2019. 

"It's kind of like Charlie Brown and the football. For so long now, the community feels like the football is put out in front of it and then taken away at the last minute. That's not the case this time," Scott promised. 

Mission Gateway is supposed to bring in apartments, retail space on the first floor of the apartment complex, a hotel and a food hall backed by celebrity chef Tom Colicchio. 

Colicchio's team told 41 Action News they are fully on-board and are working with the 2020 timeline. They are working toward lease agreements, his team said. 

The one percent sales tax will be in effect for 22 years, which goes back to the developer to offset costs. The council approved $214 million in bonds for the project. 

"We had a couple concerns about the fact that if he goes beyond that 22 years, if that sales tax may not be available. But the CID really supports the developer, but it gives some credence to the city as well," Kring said. 

Scott said the developer signed an agreement with the Loft and the Element hotels. They plan to bring design plans by this winter and break ground by next spring. 

Valenti, Scott said, has completed the plan review on their building and selected a contractor to begin. He said the city issued the building permit last week. 

"There's kind of a synergy starting to occur. Not only do we have the Gateway project on the east side of town, we have Mission Trails along Johnson Drive, east of Lamar. We have another potential development on Martway; the preliminary approval went through the planning commission a few months ago," Scott said. 

Mission Trails is a $40 million mixed-use project with 200 apartment units and retail. 

The city hopes the Gateway project will be an anchor that will help a new burst of business on Johnson Drive prosper. 

City council will decide on Valenti's request at its meeting on Sept. 19. If approved, they'll have to notify the city by Sept. 30. 

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