Developers say Mission Gateway construction has ‘taken a pause’ while they focus on designing food hall, entertainment components

Leah Wankum - April 4, 2019 12:26 pm
Mission Gateway
Mission Gateway site in early April 2019

Physical work on the site of Mission Gateway at Johnson Drive and Roe Avenue has “taken a pause to allow for the design work to continue.”

That’s straight from Andy Ashwal, vice president and senior asset manager of GFI, the developer partnered with Cameron Group LLC on the project. He added that he understands the concerns voiced recently by northeast Johnson County residents who have seen the project delayed for more than a decade and noticed a lack of activity on the site in recent weeks.

“It’s important for the community to know what’s going on. This is a big deal to Mission and to the surrounding community,” he said. “This is a large site that has had a checkered background. It’s had some fits and starts, but we’re really excited about where the project is right now, how it’s trending, and the partners that we have involved and what we’re doing there.”

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Ashwal said GFI and Cameron Group are still working on financing on the project and developing design concepts for certain components, including the food hall, entertainment tenant (still unnamed) and 200-key hotel.

“When people think about a large, mixed-use development like this that is going to be happening over multiple years, it’s a lot more than what’s just happening physically on site,” Ashwal said. “There’s a lot of things that have to happen before work happens on site, including design work, permitting and focusing on phasing so that when the construction happens on site, it happens sequentially and we don’t sort of quote-unquote box ourselves into a corner or make the work harder for the workers that are there.”

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

Site work began last summer and construction had a rainy kickoff in September. Construction for the large-format entertainment tenant and other components should begin soon, he added. Cameron Group and GFI met with the contractors this week to discuss the schedule to restart construction.

“We’re really excited about the food hall and working with Tom [Colicchio]; his team has been fantastic as we’re concepting and designing the food hall,” he said.

Ashwal said Fogel-Anderson, the lead construction manager for Mission Gateway, has been “a great partner” and that GFI has had no payment issues with the contractor. He noted GFI’s history with these trade and design partners on other projects in the Kansas City metro area, including Copper Ridge Apartments in Liberty and RM West II apartments in Kansas City, Missouri.

(Fogel-Anderson has not replied to a request for comment on the status of the construction. We’ll update the story if we hear from them.)

So far, GFI and Cameron have invested $6 million of their own equity into the project and closed on a $20 million loan for the project on Monday, which enables them to continue moving forward on design work, Ashwal said. Total capitalization for the project is estimated at more than $200 million.

Cameron Group and GFI have indicated they signed the entertainment tenant in December 2018. The two companies expect to announce the name of that tenant “pretty soon.”

“In December, when we had signed the large retail tenant, it was really fantastic, but we hadn’t anticipated that timeline,” Ashwal said, adding that working with the entertainment tenant required the pause on construction so they could focus on design.

Ashwal said he doesn’t think the community and its leadership should be concerned “when they don’t see action on site because there’s continued progress throughout, continuing with the goal of getting all of this development done and the site open.”

Developers expect the first retail component should be complete by mid-2020, with the site to be fully activated in late 2021.

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