Abandoned Property in the Heart of Our Community Prepares for Transformation.

The main intersection anchoring the heart of the Martin City neighborhood is poised to take another big step forward — finally. Jack Stack Barbecue’s original location is a flashy symbol of community pride on the northeast corner of 135th and Holmes Road. The historic Martin Event Space stands like a monument on the northwest corner. And now, here comes a modern housing development near the southeast corner.

“New housing is an important piece of Martin City’s revitalization,” says Martin City Community Improvement District (MCCID) Manager Vickie Wolgast. “This apartment complex is designed to fit into our community and we’re excited about the impact it will have on our businesses up and down 135th Street and Holmes Road.”

The project is in the final stages of the approval process and expected to break ground before the end of 2021. Residents could start moving in by early 2023. Plans for a companion commercial development between the apartments and Holmes Road are still up in the air, but could begin firming up in the next year or so and may include new dining options. All of it will wipe out the overgrown eyesore that’s stood for years where a paintball business used to be.

The old paintball property set to be cleared and cleaned up.

Expect a year of construction in 2022 as four buildings housing four floors rise at the site. 180 units will range from studio apartments to three-bedrooms layouts. All will be available at market rates, approximately $850 to $1,750, with no rent subsidies. 

Right in the middle of the property, residents can expect pickleball courts, a fitness center, a swimming pool, covered outdoor pavilions, a business center supporting remote work, and a fenced-in dog park. A half-mile trail around the apartments won’t be far from the Blue River, a natural feature of Martin City area geography that begs for more attention.

Preliminary project sketch.

The Blue River, a scenic treasure along Martin City’s east side.

The project is a joint partnership involving Miller Commerce and TLC Properties of Springfield, Missouri, and Christie Development and Associates from the Kansas City area. Together, the group is promising a well-planned and well-managed housing development that fits Martin City like a glove.

“We’ve explored the neighborhood many times and it’s perfect for what we have in mind,” says Andrew Doolittle of Miller Commerce. “Martin City is so unique and feels like a community. That provides critical context for the success of this project.”

A Bigger Move for Martin City.

Doolittle has worked closely with the Martin City Community Improvement District (MCCID) to learn about the neighborhood’s history, current needs and future ambitions in order to determine whether the idea is a good fit. He’s secured the MCCID’s endorsement and shares the business community’s excitement for enhancing liveability in an area of Kansas City that’s already an established destination for food, recreation and shopping.

“Many people have already demonstrated that they’re willing to make the trip to Martin City to experience everything it has to offer,” explains Doolittle. “Now they’ll have the opportunity to actually live here and access everything within a short walk or bike ride.”

New sidewalks and businesses close to the curb already make Martin City a walkable neighborhood.

Martin City’s bicycle appeal was recently enhanced by the installation of bike racks throughout the neighborhood.

If you want a glimpse of what’s to come, look at what inspired it. Miller Commerce and TLC Properties helped turn a ragged 19th century mining area of Springfield into a thriving, modern neighborhood that’s attracted millions in adjacent commercial investment in the few years it’s been on the map. The Martin City development will be similar, but not an exact duplicate.

The inspiration — The Township 28 Apartments in Springfield. Photo courtesy: TLC Properties.

“We want to do more than build a place to park and sleep,” says Doolittle over the phone as he prepares for another trip to meet with the MCCID. “We’re focused on lifestyle and creating a sense of community, and active property management is key. You’ve got to take good care of a property all year long. TLC has a long history of doing exactly that across dozens of lifestyle-driven properties. Residents want to be proud of where they live, and that includes the surrounding community. Martin City is TLC’s first venture into the Kansas City area so you know they believe in this neighborhood.”

Doolittle says the project will spark new energy on the corner of 135th and Holmes that ripples across Martin City. Imagine a steady stream of people strolling down our newly constructed sidewalks on 135th Street and the sidewalks included in Kansas City’s plan to overhaul Holmes.

Near the project site, looking west on 135th at Holmes in Martin City.

“More people will be able to live, eat and play in Martin City,” says Doolittle. “They won’t only explore local businesses, they’ll rely on them. That’s why Martin City’s hometown character is so important. The diversity of businesses here fosters growth. New residential opportunities will really boost the community’s already strong appeal.”

It’s no secret that there are clear trends across the country pointing to cozier communities. More people are seeking situations that allow easy access to routine destinations near where they live. “It’s about being close to what you like to do and need to do,” adds Doolittle. “And residents invite family members and friends to visit and share the experience too. It’s a win-win dynamic for local businesses and everyone living in the community. Active, thriving communities are great places to be.”

Doolittle also points out that Martin City has a head start. Through the MCCID, our business community has taken the lead in forging a healthy future. Unlike other communities, we’re shoring up our infrastructure and strategically mapping out our growth. We’re not just sitting back and hoping good things will spontaneously happen. “You’ve got really good stewards of the community in Martin City. These businesses are focused on doing things right. That’s a big advantage.”

The apartment complex at 135th Street and Holmes Road won’t be the last to spring up. Others are coming into focus in the Martin City area too, including the Forest Ridge Villas behind Fishtech.

134th and Charlotte, southeast of Fishtech — expected site of Forest Ridge Villas.

It’s a good time to be part of our community, and as our revitalization picks up momentum, hopes are high that it will only get better. “Working together, we’re fulfilling Martin City’s potential,” says Wolgast. “It takes everyone’s involvement in the local business community, and we’re grateful for those who step up and help us make the most of the opportunities ahead.”