Housing Development May be Coming to Martin City!
The southeast corner of 135th Street and Holmes Road in the heart of Martin City may not look like the future, but just wait! A development team partnering with local attorney Ferdinand Niemann IV is proposing a $36 million mixed-use housing project designed to give Martin City’s revitalization movement a major boost.
Picture eight three-story buildings with a swimming pool and workout area in the heart of Martin City. The new development would replace Martin City Paintball with as many as 200 apartments built across approximately 15 acres. Two or three restaurants would also be built and carefully blended into the housing layout.
“Our goal is to make this the best housing development property in all of South Kansas City,” says Niemann. “Step one is making it a good fit for Martin City and the community’s revitalization effort. We’re not trying to reinvent Martin City. We want to fit into it and help it grow.”
It could be 2021 before the development comes to life. Niemann and his partners still need to secure tax abatements and rezoning, and negotiate infrastructure improvements with the City of Kansas City before details are finalized and construction gets underway. Meanwhile, Niemann says planning continues and excitement is building.
“You’re going to see people pour into the neighborhood. As many as 300 new residents would become customers for local shops, restaurants and other businesses. Just imagine the energy all of those people would create.”
Niemann emphasizes the development team shares the same values championed by Martin City businesses as they navigate the neighborhood’s growth. He says Martin City is special, and what’s good for the community is good for the new development plan.
“There’s a real ambiance in Martin City,” says Niemann. “It’s not suburbia and it’s not urban core. There’s something unique and precious about this neighborhood that we want to help preserve and enhance because it’s what sets Martin City apart.”
Housing the Future
We have food, fun, and more jobs now in Martin City. However, adequate affordable housing may be the missing piece. Urban planners will tell you that opportunities for working, playing, and living are all valuable in positioning a community for sustained growth. Niemann says his team is offering a huge opportunity to strengthen the living component.
“If you look across South Kansas City, you’ll see there are no new apartment complexes. That’s part of the reason we think this housing development will be the best in the area and very high in demand. There just isn’t much competition. You can find apartments down the road in Kansas, but they’re pretty pricey.”
Some of the new apartments would be lofts and studios starting at about $800. Apartments with two bedrooms and two baths would approach $1,200-$1,300. There would be no income or other restrictions, and no rent subsidies. Put it all together and you have what many would consider affordable housing that blends in well with a community on the upswing.
“The market in the Martin City area will not support high rents. That’s one reason why we’re confident our rents will be affordable. They simply have to be. The current land value is very reasonable and that helps keep rent levels down too. We’re also keeping our costs down to help.”
Controlling costs means things like limiting each building to three stories. Anything taller would require expensive elevator construction and operating costs. It also means no expensive below-ground parking garages. Like everything else in Martin City, parking will be ground level.
Who will rent the apartments? Niemann says the goal is to integrate with the natural dynamics of the community to keep the new housing accessible to people already in the area.
“We think there’s quite a demand for nice, multi-family housing. Major employers like the Honeywell National Security Campus, Smithfield Foods and Fishtech are nearby. There are workers with good incomes already in the area and they’re looking for this kind of housing.”
More Flavor for Local Dining
Two or three restaurants are planned for the new apartment complex but they haven’t been identified yet. The idea is to carefully design them to fit into the complex and connect with changing preferences among young adults. Niemann says the mixed-use nature of the project is exactly right for the people and the unique feel of Martin City.
“This will not be a suburban-style development. Millennials like a more urban style that’s easily accessible, walkable outdoors and nicely landscaped. That’s already the way things are heading in Martin City, especially with the street improvements. We want to align with that and blend right in, not change it.”
Niemann says the development’s new restaurants and any new retail would need to complement Martin City’s existing scene. The goal is to add to the community’s momentum, not challenge it.
“People love Martin City restaurants. We understand and embrace that, and want to help those restaurants succeed. The idea is to complement with more options that will attract more customers to all restaurants in the neighborhood. If you look at other thriving communities in the Kansas City area, some of them have dozens of restaurants because it enhances appeal as a destination.”
Niemann believes the project’s impact on local dining businesses is more about the influx of new residents than the addition of restaurants.
“This will be a major plus for existing Martin City restaurants. They will really benefit from hundreds of new residents living right at the corner of 135th and Holmes. Imagine all of those people walking around, shopping, doing business, and grabbing a bite to eat. It will be the kind of vibrancy that will attract more attention and make Martin City even more of a destination.”
Shaping What’s Right for Revitalization
Martin City’s upswing is no longer a secret. Niemann says the momentum behind our community’s revitalization is obvious and easily convinced his team that more housing is a smart investment.
“You know normally we wouldn’t buy property until we had users already lined up and the approval process all figured out. But in this case, we’re confident Martin City is on the rise so we had no problem buying the property upfront. We know Martin City is in the path of progress and has a bright future. That’s exciting.”
Of the many hurdles yet to clear, Niemann’s team really needs 135th Street extended about 700 feet east of Holmes Road to round out access to the apartment complex.
They also have high hopes that the planned overhaul of Holmes Road will result in a wider road with proper curbing and lots of sidewalks. Like other businesses along Holmes, developers of the new apartment complex see sidewalks as critical for a walkable community that really brings Martin City’s potential to life.
Meanwhile, Niemann’s development team is working closely with the Martin City Community Improvement District (MCCID) to stay on the right path for progress that other local businesses are traveling.
“We love the idea behind the CID. These are people taking charge of the future of their community and they are focused on healthy, smart development. It’s just great. We’re so fortunate to be able to work with the CID and understand Martin City better. They’re really going about this the right way.”
The project still has a long way to go before any construction begins and approval could get complicated. But Niemann expects it will all be worth it in the end, and most of the CID businesses have been thrilled to learn the run-down old paintball field is going away!
“Martin City is a cool place, that’s all there is to it. It’s a great neighborhood and has such a diverse business culture. More quality housing is just what it needs to support hundreds of new families raising their kids and growing with the community. We hope to make the kind of impact that will help Martin City rise to the next level without abandoning its treasured character.”
Stay tuned for updates as the development makes progress!