Mission mows the weeds and waits for a new Gateway plan; Valenti says one is coming but no prediction when

The weeds continue to grow on the vacant Gateway property. The city recently had its abatement contractor mow at the site.
The weeds continue to grow on the vacant Gateway property. The city recently had its abatement contractor mow at the site.

While the weeds continue to grow, Mission Gateway developer Tom Valenti says he still hopes to bring a plan for the vacant property back to the city. “I hope that will happen soon, but I am no longer in the prediction business,” Valenti said by email.

In the meantime, the city turned to its abatement contractor to have the flourishing weeds mowed on the property, lawsuits have piled up over the stalled project and Mission has initiated proceedings to collect $600,000 per year from Valenti’s firm to recover the city’s investment in stormwater infrastructure.

City staff said this week that Valenti has not communicated any new plans for the property. In January, Valenti’s attorney Korb Maxwell told the council that a new plan could be presented in 30 to 60 days. That plan, he said, would be multi-story and multi-use.

Valenti’s Thursday email said he is not ready to come back to the city yet. “We want to have all of our ducks in order first,” he said. “The plan we will present will be a mixed use project that will meet the requirements of the MXD zoning.”

Danielle Murray, the city’s interim Community Development Director, said the mowing bill for the recent weed cutting is estimated at $500. The bill is sent to the property owner, she said. “If it isn’t paid, we will then file a lien against the property.” It is not the first time the city has had to take responsibility for cutting weeds at the Gateway, she said, but the bills have always been paid by the owner. The topography and obstacles at the site even prevent mowing all of the weeds that have taken over.

The assessment to recoup the city’s stormwater invest will run for 20 years and total $12 million. The first installment will hit the developer’s tax bill this year. Valenti has not appeared before the council since last November when he pitched a completely revised plan for the site with Walmart, a hotel and a small retail strip. That proposal was dead on arrival with the council and is no longer on the table.

In August, two years will have passed since the celebratory groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site to start construction, but not much has changed at the 16.2 acre site in those two years. Now, any new proposal will need to start from scratch to get approval and a development deal with the city.