Developer tells Mission residents that Gateway project ‘will become a reality’

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MISSION, Kan. -- As early as next spring, 16 acres of dirt and weeds will finally be transformed into a multi-million dollar development project for the city of Mission, according to the developer.

"I just want something out there. Put a park out there, something. We've been waiting for 10 years or so," said Valerie Kohoutek.

"It's just been the big elephant in the living room. I also think the city doesn't update us regularly. I'd like to see some type of store out there that sells all kinds of things and it must bring in revenue. It must be a win-win for the people and our economy, " added Kay Wessel, who's lived in Mission for nearly 10 years.

Thursday night about 60 Mission residents packed the Sylvester Powell, Jr. Community Center and listened intently to Developer Tom Valenti discuss what's next for the $180 million development project now that Wal-Mart, a key portion of the project, recently announced its pulling out.

The site, which is located on the south side of Johnson Driver between Roeland Drive, Shawnee Mission Parkway and Roe Avenue, has been vacant for more than a decade.

"The city put in all the sewers and that was expensive you know from time to time. Also, you hear they don't really like the New York developer or the realtor options, so I just want to see it get off the dime," said Kay Wessel.

Developer Tom Valenti tells FOX 4 so far two upscale hotels have committed to the project. Valenti says he realizes many residents have run out of patience with the project, but he insists as early as next spring the first phase will begin.

"The Aloft Hotel has signed and The Element Hotel has signed. The Aloft will be 150 rooms and The Element will be 50 rooms. The first phase, probably the retail and the apartments along Roeland and Johnson Drive. There's one level of retail with three levels of residential above it. Those will probably be first then the parking garage and the hotel after that," said Tom Valenti

Valenti says he's hoping at least three more retailers will jump on board.

"We're going to continue the project and we're going to see it through completion and it's going to have all the other elements that we talked about before: retail, hotel and potentially office space, Valenti told FOX 4's Robert Townsend.