Mission council approves CID start date delay; construction still on schedule

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

The Mission council has granted Tom Valenti’s request to delay the start date for an additional sales tax for Mission Gateway.

After initial concerns two weeks ago, the council unanimously approved the delay, which pushes back the community improvement district’s 1 percent sales tax start date from Jan. 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020. Valenti and others on the Gateway team indicated that the delay would “align with the completion of development and the beginning of retail activity.”

Korb Maxwell, a Polsinelli attorney representing the Mission Gateway developers, told the council that, per the agreement, the developers “plan to put footings and foundations in before Oct. 30.” After that, the council can expect to see “a continuous build process” to meet the agreed-upon deadline. Site work began Sept. 5.

Councilmembers in their Wednesday meeting said concerns they had voiced in a community development committee meeting two weeks ago are now assuaged.

Councilmember Sollie Flora said she was concerned that allowing a pushback to the sales tax start date would “give approval to a project delay.” But after discussing with city staff, she understood the start date was preliminary.

“I don’t think any extension by the council should be viewed as sort of an open shot to extend other things on the project,” she added.

Councilmember Nick Schlossmacher said the city agreed to a 22-year term, and the project has experienced no delays or “missed promises from the other side” since the agreement was put in place.

Commencement of phase one construction must be complete by April 2020, which coincides with the beginning of the additional sales tax kickoff, Schlossmacher added.

Councilmember Hillary Parker Thomas said she was hesitant on how she should vote, citing concerns with public perception.

“With that said, I will let you know that if we get to 2020, I don’t think I can approve another extension if that was so proposed,” Thomas added.

City administrator Laura Smith said “the original implementation date was established with the best information available at the time,” adding that a revision was possible.

“The developer has currently met all project milestones established in the redevelopment agreement, and this is not the result of project delays,” Smith indicated to the council. “I think we’ve seen the taxes being brought current, we have issued a building permit, we have plans that have been approved for phase one and a contractor that’s been hired and been meeting regularly with the city in terms of getting those things started.

Smith added that at this point, phase one is “being done with the developer’s equity in the project,” absent of public funding at this time.

Mission resident Josh Sturgis spoke again to the council after raising concerns last year at the Oct. 17, 2017, meeting when the council agreed to the project plan. Sturgis voiced similar concerns, indicating that he thinks Valenti is not a responsible developer.

“I just don’t like this Mission Gateway project; I think it’s going to be a huge pain for Mission,” Sturgis told the council, citing concerns with delays and the overturn of redevelopment plans for the past decade.

Sturgis had suggested tabling the issue, but Smith advised the council that their decision is on deadline because the city is required to notify the state of Kansas by Sept. 30.