Mission issues building permit for long-stalled Mission Gateway project

A rendering of the apartments-above-retail portion of the project.

Let the watch for construction crews at Roe and Johnson Drive begin.

Weeks after developer Tom Valenti’s operation paid more than $2 million in back taxes on the property and had workers doing preliminary site preparation, the city of Mission on Tuesday issued a formal building permit that will allow substantive construction of the long-stalled Mission Gateway project to commence.

To be eligible for the more than $36 million in public finance incentives approved by the Mission city council last year, Valenti must begin work on the first phase of the project — an apartments-above-retail concept fronting Roeland Drive and Johnson Drive — by October.

Valenti said last month that he expects construction work on phase one to begin in early September.

The issuance of the building permit ranks as a major milestone in the project’s drawn-out history.

City leaders, chamber of commerce officials and Valenti held a groundbreaking ceremony on the site in August 2013 to mark what was supposed to be the start of work on an earlier version of the project that would have been anchored by a Walmart. But construction never began, and the developer suffered a series of setbacks in the intervening years. In 2016, Walmart announced it was pulling out of the project, sending Valenti back to the drawing board.

The version of the plan approved by Mission last year replaced much of the area that was to be occupied by the Walmart with two large buildings for entertainment-related tenants — but frustrations remained among some on the city council over the fact that the identities of those tenants had not been released. Part of that equation was solved in May when Valenti confirmed that one of the buildings would become a food hall curated by Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio. Valenti’s company has not announced the identity of the tenant for the second entertainment building. Both of the entertainment concept buildings will be part of a later phase of the project.