MISSION, Kan. - The site of the former Mission Center Mall has been an empty field for the last five years, but that could soon change thanks to WAL-MART.
An announcement is planned for Wednesday afternoon confirming that a WAL-MART will serve as an anchor for a new retail development at the former mall site near Johnson Drive and Shawnee Mission Parkway in Shawnee.
The development, to be called The Gateway, will also include other ventures such as a theater and aquarium. There are a lot of locally owned businesses on Johnson Drive in Mission. It's hard for them not to worry about WAL-MART moving in nearby.
"This would devastate this small business along this street from hardware stores to camera shops to liquor stores and bakeries," said Dave Milller.
Miller has owned Werner's Fine Sausages for 16 years. He helped fight off WAL-MART the first time around.
"Now, seven years later WAL-MART is now coming in," he said.
He says businesses in the Mission area are already struggling because of the economy as well as all the construction along Johnson Drive. He says putting a WAL-MART in just down the street is a slap in the face.
"The present merchants be damned," he said. "We don't care about you."
Mission City Administrator Mike Scanlon says there's no doubt this announcement is good for Mission and for its businesses.
"One of the concerns we hear from Johnson Drive businesses is we haven't done enough to bring retail to that site which they believe will enhance traffic on Johnson Drive and increase business at their store," Scanlon said.
He says people hear WAL-MART but that's only 15 percent of the Gateway development. He says the 26 acre site includes some 300 apartments, office and retail space.
"An aquarium is included as well as a hotel," he said.
People like Dave Miller remain skeptical.
"They're planing to put in an aquarium and restaurants and hotel and I don't think that will fly next to a WAL-MART," Miller said. "It's just not the venue that would attract that kind of thing."
The city says the developer will break ground on the Gateway Development in the spring of 2012 and it should be done within 24 months.
Mission Center Mall was torn down by developers in 2006. The site has since become a weed-choked empty lot, drawing complaints from residents in the area.