With $2 million in back taxes paid, Mission Gateway developer begins preliminary site work

Preliminary work on Mission Gateway at Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue began Wednesday, July 18.

One week after the developer for Mission Gateway paid more than $2 million in back taxes, preliminary construction work has begun on the site at Roe and Johnson Drive in Mission.

Tom Valenti, the Syracuse, N.Y.-based developer for Mission Gateway, confirmed Wednesday that construction workers from Emery Sapp & Sons are doing some site work on the old foundations of the Mission Mall.

“There were piers on which the foundation was laid and those were not removed when they demolished the mall,” Valenti said, adding that contractors will take down the tops of about 400 piers on site. “So they’re locating those now in anticipation of the site building in September.”

A rendering of the street level view of the apartments-over-retail portion of the development.

Valenti said he received permission from Mission last week to do preliminary work on site.

“The city is aware that we’re out there and working,” he added.

Emily Randel, Mission public information officer at Mission City Hall, said “no building permit has been issued yet,” but the developer is authorized to begin exploratory work such as core sampling in preparation for construction work.

Valenti also said he paid back taxes of $2,160,000 to the city of Mission on Thursday, July 12, as well as some late fees, “so we’re all caught up.”

Those back taxes were a sticking point in the city’s approval of Valenti’s updated plans for the project last summer, which were eventually approved by the Mission city council last October.

City leaders had also been leery of the fact that Valenti had not announced the tenants for two large structures in the plans that were reserved for entertainment purposes. The mystery surrounding one of the buildings disappeared when the company announced in May that celebrity chef Tom Colicchio would be the curator of a 40,000 square foot food hall on the site. The concept for the other building has not been disclosed.

It’s been nearly five years since Valenti and city officials held a groundbreaking ceremony for an earlier version of the project — a Walmart-anchored version that never came to fruition.

Valenti said Wednesday expects off-site work to begin in August, with construction beginning the first week of September.

“Everything is moving in accordance with what we described at the last council meeting,” Valenti said. “We’re looking forward to the construction starting in September.”