Gateway developers had planned to ask for $31 million in public financing if project plan was approved

Mission Mayor Steve Schowengerdt and council member Tom Geraghty listen to residents speaking about the Gateway project at the city council meeting Wednesday.
Mission Mayor Steve Schowengerdt and council member Tom Geraghty listen to residents speaking about the Gateway project at the city council meeting Wednesday.

Mission Gateway developer Tom Valenti said that he planned to ask the city for $31 million in public financing support if his site plan had been approved.

The money would have come from a combination of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Community Improvement District (CID) funds that would have been directed toward paying part of the development costs. The funds would have come from increased property tax revenue and additional sales taxes imposed on retail sales that would be diverted to the project costs.

Valenti Wednesday said he had sent a letter to the city notifying of his intent to request the $31 million package. A somewhat similar amount was approved in January 2013 for a plan that never got off the ground. That version had retail above a Walmart at the east end of the property. A TIF project plan would have required a supermajority vote of the council. The financing was seen as potentially an even tougher sell for the developer than the site plan.

Even with adding apartments above the Walmart to alleviate concerns about the project’s qualifications as a mixed-use development, the council voted 6-2 against the preliminary site plan.

While the future for the more than 16 acres of land is now in limbo, Valenti’s group faces the additional burden of paying off $12 million in stormwater improvements that were made by the city. The Gateway property is being assessed nearly $600,000 per year on the property tax bill.

The first tax bill with the assessment on it came due in December 2015. The December installment of the tax was paid, but county tax records show that the May installment of $369,780 has not been paid and has accumulated a $10,219 interest payment.

The assessment will continue for 20 years.

Only council members Pat Quinn and Suzie Gibbs spoke from the dias Wednesday about their votes, and both voted in favor. Quinn said he agreed with the planning commission that the plan meets the mixed use definition. Gibbs said it was not true that nobody in Mission wants Walmart. “I have a real problem with saying that Walmart will wipe (local businesses) out,” she added.

A number of residents spoke against the plan before the council vote. Both Barbara Porro and Josh Sturgis made reference to a Bloomberg Businessweek story this week about crime at Walmart stores and how that has shifted a burden to local police departments. “There is no benefit to the community,” Sturgis said.