Thursday, October 23, 2014

Downtown Martin City Phase 1 Facelift Complete

By Mary Wilson

Damon Hodges, project manager with Kansas City Public Works, welcomed guests to the completion of the first phase of Martin City’s 135th Street improvements on Thursday, October 16. The $9.1 million overhaul of the street has been divided into three sections. Phase one included 135th Street from Holmes to Oak; phase two will include from Oak to Wornall, with an anticipated start date by summer of 2015; and phase three includes Wornall to 150 Hwy.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said 6th District Councilman John Sharp. “Martin City is really a hidden treasure for Kansas City, and hopefully it won’t be so hidden now that we’re finally putting in the infrastructure that is long overdue. With so many great restaurants and shops, this is an entertainment mecca.”

Sharp added that Martin City is an area of Kansas City that receives a high percentage of visitors from Johnson County. Phase one was completed with a strong partnership with the county’s significant financial support, as well as the Martin City Community Improvement District.

“When you want to attract an upscale customer, it has to look nice,” said Sharp. “Now it does. We’re going to be working very hard to get the rest of the money we need for phase two.”

6th District Councilman Scott Taylor added that the Kansas City Public Improvements Advisory Committee (PIAC) unanimously contributed $2.3 million to the project.

“We all feel strongly in supporting Martin City,” said Taylor. “You can see the impact it already has. It’s much more family-friendly with sidewalks, and our hope is that this will attract new business and make this more of a destination.”

Taylor also said that Martin City is a revenue-driver for the city of Kansas City, bringing in new funds from neighboring cities. Taylor added that as chair of the city’s first ever Small Business Committee, he will continue doing whatever he can to make it easier for businesses to open in Martin City. The city has kept that commitment throughout the construction, passing an ordinance for a microbrewery in Martin City.

“We’ve set up a microloan program, a small business loan program, through the city in partnership with the Small Business Administration,” said Taylor. “You can receive up to a $50,000 loan to get a business started and help fill up some of these empty spaces so that we have full capacity in Martin City.”

Parties interested in the city’s microloan program can contact the Kansas City BizCare office at 816-513-2492, or by visiting the city’s website at www.kcmo.gov.

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