TIF district for Mission Gateway project already set; no review by school district

The corner of Johnson and Roeland Drives as shown in one of the new renderings for the Gateway project.

Any Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) proposed for the newest Mission Gateway project will not be subject to review by the Shawnee Mission School District or county government.

The reason: the TIF district already has been established. Shawnee Mission schools have undertaken a more thorough review of TIF proposals for redevelopment projects in the area, the most recent being the financing proposal for the Meadowbrook park project. School officials have pointed out that TIF projects take new capital tax money off the table for 20 years while – if the project is residential – can increase the demand for new school facilities. The newest Gateway proposal does have a residential component.

The school district and the county both hold veto power over a TIF district. But they can veto only the creation of the district, not the subsequent development agreement that may be worked out between the city and the developer. TIF agreements usually designate that the additional property taxes coming from the higher assessed valuation of a project are diverted to support development costs.

In the case of the Gateway, the TIF district that was created for the project approved by the council in early 2013 is still viable, city officials confirmed. The project approved back then was to have been completed by the end of 2015, so any new proposal that gets approval will require a new development agreement. The district, though, is still intact. That means no review by the school district or county.

The latest proposal from New York developer Tom Valenti is considerably different from the 2013 plan. The proposal for a one-story Walmart has drawn criticism from some members of the council. During a sustainability commission meeting last week, Valenti reiterated that the project depends on receiving approval for $29 million in special obligations bonds that would be paid for by proceeds from the TIF plus additional sales tax from Community Improvement Districts (CID).