Wednesday, December 08, 2010

New dirt on The Mission Dirt Pile

From what I could tell, the little tidbit of news didn't get much play earlier this week. At least if it did, I didn't see it in the usual local newscasts, websites and Twitters I follow.

Just a short few paragraphs from the Kansas City Business Journal that popped up in my RSS feed reader indicating that there might finally be some movement in the development of what has become known as The Mission Dirt Pile.

When the Mission Dirt Pile was first created, I was living a couple of blocks north in Roeland Park, a cute little inner-ring suburb peopled by families just starting out, elderly couples (and singles) who are dying out and your random urban chicken enthusiast.

We really liked living in the RP. Characters like the crazy pot-smoking retired lady a few doors down just added to the texture of the neighborhood. So we were pretty happy with the then Mission Center Mall property was slated to be demolished.

It was quite something to see the old mall go through the stages of deconstruction on my way home from work each day.

The proposal was to replace the mall with a "lifestyle" center that would include a high-rise boutique hotel, condos and street level retail. Somewhere along the way large aquarium was thrown in for good measure.

Keep in mind this was back in 2006, a more innocent time in America. A healthier General Motors was reporting losses of only $8.6 billion, AIG gave a sincere apology to government regulators for its deceptive business practices, and the Blue-ray Disc format was introduced to American consumers.

More importantly, the country was in the midst of a real estate boom the most thought would never end. So when developers presented the renderings of The Gateway lifestyle center, most of us were pretty excited about it. It was reported at the time that some people even put down deposits on some of the condo units before ground had even been broken.

Of course, we all know what happened to the real estate market, not to mention the rest of the economy. All that was left of The Gateway development was a giant mountain of dirt and broken dreams.

Well, fast forward to last Monday when we learned that the development group has new partners and may be close to resuming work on the project, possibly breaking ground as soon as next summer.

According to the article in the Kansas City Business Journal, the developer, The Cameron Group LLC, received an extension on a critical deadline that allows them to retain $63 million in sales tax revenue bonds for the project.
[Cameron Group's] Tom Valenti said his new partners, which include RED’s Tim Schaffer and Caymus’ Dave Harrison, add credibility to the project.

“Having RED and Caymus being involved sends a message to the community here that this is real and it is going to happen,” Valenti said.

Valenti said the Gateway project will be built in two phases, beginning with the aquarium and apartments.
It all sounds very promising. Certainly a nice retail/business district will bring in more revenue than a big pile of dirt. Definitely it will look much nicer, though the opossum's and foxes that now live there might have some objections.

Of course it remains to be seen whether we are near enough to the end of the current recession for this to actually happen.

I guess we'll know by the end of the summer.

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  1. I don't see it ever working. It's not close enough to the highway to be a huge destination. Aquariums are expensive to maintain. Should've gone with community chicken coup.

  2. I hope it does work, eventually, in some form. I used to work for Tim, and I really liked the guy. He's creative and eager, and he's got a good head on his shoulders. Hopefully his involvement in the whole project will help carry it to fruition somehow...


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