Mission Gateway construction finally started after long wait

Grading crews have begun working at the Mission Gateway site this week.
Grading crews have begun working at the Mission Gateway site this week.

The first signs that the Mission’s Gateway development is taking off are now visible at the property. Not only have crews moved in equipment and started preliminary site grading, the city has scheduled an official groundbreaking ceremony for next month.

Tom Valenti, the New York based developer for the Gateway was in Mission Wednesday and said the project probably is still a few weeks away from signing a junior anchor, but construction can get started before that is locked up. Building foundations probably will not be poured until November, but retaining walls will be constructed before then, he indicated.

The ceremonial groundbreaking will take place at 4 p.m. August 12. That gives grading crews time to create a suitable spot for the event. The groundbreaking will mark the official beginning of construction on the development but also the end of an eight-year journey since Valenti acquired the property and had the recession stall his original plans to replace the mall that previously occupied the site.

The project is anchored by the 150,000 square foot Walmart store at the corner of Roe and Johnson Drive in the northeast corner of the development. Valenti has signed a Sprouts Farmers Market and Toby Keith’s I love This Bar & Grill. He has said construction loans depend on a junior anchor signing and that is still in the works.

Plans for a hotel and aquarium at the site were abandoned during the recession. The $165 million project will now include 300 residential apartments and 300,000 square feet of retail space. The Walmart will be a different style with a second floor of other retail above it rather than the typical stand alone design.

Mission is contributing to the project with approximately $30 million of public financing using both sales and property tax from the site to pay off bonds.