Mission council approves $30 million in public financing for Mission Gateway development

Mission City Council members listened to members of the public voice opinions about the Gateway development project Wednesday night at the Sylvester Powell Community Center.

The Mission Gateway project passed its biggest hurdle when the Mission City Council by a 5-3 vote approved the redevelopment agreement that calls for a public financing package supplying approximately $30 million toward the project costs.

Councilors Amy Miller, Lawrence Andre and Will Vandenberg voted against the project. Vandenberg and Andre also voted against creating a tax increment financing district that is necessary to the financing structure detailed in the development agreement.

More than a dozen Mission residents spoke to the council on both sides of the issue before a standing room crowd in the Sylvester Powell Community Center. The meeting had been moved from city hall to accommodate the expected crowd.

Several speakers said the Gateway project, planned for Shawnee Mission Parkway and Roe, will not only create jobs, but will provide a boost for other businesses. Bill Menge spoke on behalf of the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, backing the project and saying businesses all down Johnson Drive will benefit.

Others, like Mission resident Andy Sandler, opposed the project. He called it a “train wreck” and said he was “bitterly disappointed” with the plan. He called on the council to “do what is right for us in the long run.”

Councilor Miller said she was conflicted about the vote, raising concerns about the city debt and its previous efforts to reject Walmart. Andre said 80 percent of the tax benefits will go back to support the project and that was a “steep price to pay.”

The development agreement calls for work on the project t start no later than June 1 of this year and for foundation work to begin no later than October. The project is to be completed by the end of 2015.

The agreement will have a community improvement district that will charge an additional sales tax to pay off the bonds. Walmart will charge an additional half-cent sales tax while all other businesses will charge an additional one-cent sales tax. All of the bonds involved in the public financing will be repaid by the additional sales or property taxes generated by the project. The city also will be repaid for a $12 million investment in storm water improvements at the site.

The Cameron Group of East Syracuse, New York, is the developer.