Back in 2006, New York developer Tom Valenti told The Kansas City Star that his forthcoming plans for the old Mission Center Mall site would include only locally owned retailers and not "the same old run-of-the-mill tenants."
But like almost everything Valenti has said about the Mission Gateway project, the promise of a unique slate of retail tenants is at odds with reality. Especially so when one later on boasts, as Valenti did a couple of years ago, that Wal-Mart will be the "rocket fuel" that makes Mission Gateway take off.
Mission Gateway has been less rocket fuel and more empty
promises mortar shells in the nine years since Valenti bought the mall, tore it down and proceeded to pitch all kinds of highfalutin ideas for the 26-acre moonscape at Shawnee Mission Parkway and Johnson Drive.
And his roster of apparent retailers is about to get even less surprising - and less locally owned.
Rob Roberts, a reporter for the Kansas City Business Journal, on Monday spotted a permit application
for a new Sprouts Farmers Market to replace a Kmart building in Lenexa.
It's good news for Lenexa, but bad news for Mission. Sprouts was hailed as a key anchor for Mission Gateway, aside from Wal-Mart. Sprouts, which is based in Arizona, has 170 locations, including one in Overland Park.
To Valenti's credit, the Cameron Group does have some marketing materials
that seem to indicate a couple of concepts new to the Kansas City area, neither of which is locally owned or unique. One is a Grimaldi's Pizzeria (based in New York); the other is Blackfinn Grille (based in Charlotte).
Just about everything else Valenti has supposedly lined up for Mission Gateway is decidedly ordinary. Few are locally owned, and all are largely elsewhere in the metro:
* Great Clips (based in Minneapolis, with 3,300 locations in all, 47 of which are in the Kansas City area)
* GNC (based in Pittsburgh, with 7,000 locations nationwide, 21 of which are in the Kansas City area)
* AT&T (based in San Antonio, with 16,000 locations in all, 20 of which are in the Kansas City area)
* Sprint (at least Sprint is based in Overland Park, but there are 27 retail locations in the Kansas City area)
* Noodles & Company (based in Broomfield, Colorado, with 330 locations in all, eight of which are in the Kansas City area)
About that last one: Noodles & Company has a tab on its website for forthcoming locations
. It doesn't list a Mission restaurant among them.
Mission Gateway remains at a standstill because Valenti can't find a tenant that wants to be above a Wal-Mart. So the city's biggest development, which would be supported by $37 million in taxpayer help, remains stalled because of the way Valenti decided to design his project.
Valenti has told Mission residents that he's through making predictions about when Mission Gateway might finally be finished.
Even if he did, who's going to believe him?