The Mission City Council’s Finance and Administration committee on Thursday voted to advance a request from the developer of the long-stalled Gateway project to extend the implementation date for the Community Improvement Districts originally approved back in 2013.
The districts, which were initially set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, would allow the Cameron Group, LLC, to collect revenue from a special sales tax charged at businesses in the development to offset some of the costs of the project. The initial plans called for the creation of two districts — one that would charge a 1 percent sales tax for non-Walmart businesses, and one that would charge a half-percent sales tax at Walmart. That two-district approach emerged after concerns from Walmart executives that the additional sales tax would hamper the new operation.
But the significant setbacks since the creation of those two district, including Walmart’s announcement that it was pulling out of the project, have prompted Cameron to request extensions on multiple occasions. Under state laws, CIDs can only operate during a specified time window, and once they are implemented, the clock starts ticking whether there are businesses operating on the property or not.
“As you are aware, the property within the CIDs is still under consideration and no businesses currently operate there. Please be advised the Cameron Group, LLC, as agent for Aryeh Realty, LLC, is requesting to extend the CID Sales Tax commencement date from October 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018,” Matthew Valenti of the Cameron Group wrote the city late last month.
With Walmart having pulled out of the project, though, Cameron has indicated that it will submit a request for the creation of a new CID district that would replace the two existing districts and that would charge a uniform 1 percent sales tax across the entire property. City Administrator Laura Smith told the councilmembers on Thursday that the city had received details from Cameron just that afternoon on its plans to for the new CID request.
While the council committee eventually agreed to forward recommendation of Cameron’s request to a council meeting in the coming weeks and to set a public hearing date on the new CID request, the continued delays frustrated some members of the governing body.
“I’ve not found the reliability of the developer when he says he’s ready to be really something you can really count on,” said Councilman Ron Appletoft, who is Mission’s only candidate for mayor. “So I’m a little concerned that if we take him at his word, somethings going to happen and we’re going to get stuck in the mud.”
Tom Valenti brought his updated plans for the site to Mission in December 2016 saying he hoped to start construction by the end of March this year. Cameron held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project in August 2013, but no improvements have been made to the site since.