Mission administrator warns that developer could be ‘basically starting over’ with Gateway incentives package

A rendering of the Gateway East project included in the property marketing documents used by RED Brokerage and Cameron Group LLC.
A rendering of the Gateway East project included in the property marketing documents used by RED Brokerage and Cameron Group LLC. The Mission City Council heard Wednesday that plans may change and a new financial package will be proposed.

Walmart not only remains committed to coming to the Mission Gateway project, but plans to increase its footprint by 25,000 square feet to 175,000 square feet. And a hotel at the site is a possibility once again. However, the city likely will be asked to approve a new financial package as well.

A new Gateway plan, which could come back to the city as early as late September, will trigger a new development agreement and consequently a new financial plan that the developer will ask the city to support more than 18 months after the city voted for a package of financial incentives. New York developer Tom Valenti was in Mission Wednesday but did not stay to answer questions from the city council assembled for committee meetings in the evening. Some of the councilors were strongly critical when told that it is likely the Gateway development plan will need to start over.

In January 2013, the city council approved a package of financial assistance for the Gateway that contributed $30 million in bonds to be repaid with Tax Increment Financing and an additional sales tax in a Community Improvement District. The city also would have recovered its infrastructure investment in the deal. One year ago this month, the city and Gateway developers held a groundbreaking ceremony on the site, but no progress has been made since.

City administrator Gerry Vernon told the council that Sprouts grocery also is considering adding about 3,000 square feet to its store. Otherwise, he said, Valenti is “holding his plans close to his vest.” Another major retailer is still not secured, Vernon said, and the city is likely to get a new plan that could mean “basically starting over.” He said the city would be asked to “act quickly” when “things fall into place.”

The city’s outside financial advisor Bruce Kimmel said Valenti believes his bank financing is in good shape, but the bank will want to know the city is comfortable with a revised plan and a new financial request. Councilor Dave Shepard said the city has a deal on the table and has been the “only ones on board for 18 months.” Shepard said, “If Tom wants to change the plan … I have great reservations.”

“He better come up with a good plan,” Shepard said. “This is not the same council that was sitting around the table in January 2013.” Councilor Debbie Kring said, “My threshold for pain with him is completely out the window. He needs to show up here. I don’t want to wait seven more weeks.”

Agreeing with Shepard, Councilor Amy Miller said, “I think we have been completely upfront and fair with the conditions that we have stated.” She expressed concern that the developer can deliver on the project. “I think this is a project he can get done,” Kimmel said. “You will have to decide if it (the new plan) merits the city’s financial participation.”

The council agreed to hold a workshop later this month to prepare for the prospect of a new Gateway proposal.