Latest Mission Gateway plan heads to planning commission Monday, now with apartments above Walmart

The latest Gateway renderings, submitted in May, show apartments above the large Walmart store.

Mission’s Gateway development goes back to the city’s planning commission again Monday night for a restart of another revised plan for the property, 10 years after the rezoning and a site plan were first approved in 2006.

The Cameron Group had purchased the property in 2005. Development plans were presented to the planning commission and city council in 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2015.

The plan that will be presented Monday is similar to the 2015 plan with the addition of a set of apartments over the Walmart store which anchors the east end of the development and has been the source of most of the controversy since it was first added to the retail mix in the 2012 plan.

The staff report once again recommends approval of the preliminary site plan with a long list of stipulations. The staff report also says the plan does not clearly comply with Johnson Drive design guidelines, including the amount of window space on the Walmart building facing Johnson Drive.

The planning commission approved the 2015 iteration twice. The greatest difficulty came at the hands of the city council which first rejected it and then approved it in January after Mayor Steve Schowengerdt broke a 4-4 tie, voting in favor of the site plan.

Since then the council has added three new members, none of whom expressed support for the last plan. It also lost one strong Gateway supporter on the council as a result of the election.

The addition of the apartments on the top of the Walmart attempts to address a criticism that the 155,000 square foot single story building was in conflict with the guidelines for the zoning designation.

The remainder of the plan is essentially the same with a hotel, ground floor retail and upper level apartments along with multi-story parking. An office building is in the plan, contingent upon finding a tenant.

Financing for the project is another hurdle for the developer, who has indicated he will again ask for Tax Increment Financing and Community Improvement Districts which use property and sales tax increments to finance construction. If the site plan is approved, the city council will need to approve a new development agreement and a TIF project plan.

Wednesday, the council extended the time for the start of the CIDs to October 2017. Councilor Nick Schlossmacher voted against one of the two CID extensions. One CID district adds .5 percent additional sales tax to the entire Gateway and a second adds another .5 percent, but excludes the property planned for the Walmart. It was the second district that Schlossmacher voted against. The CID extensions run with the land rather than the developer and prevent the 22-year limit from starting before retail is actually on the site.