By Kevin Collison
A core stretch of the Martini Corner entertainment strip has been purchased by a developer who plans to invest $3 million in renovation and new construction, including literally lifting its bars and restaurants to a new level.
Exact Partners, along with other investors, has purchased all the properties on the north side of 31st street between Gillham Road and Oak including Ollie’s, Sol Cantina and Brickhouse.
The developer also plans to build space for new retail along with an elevated patio walkway to connect existing businesses.
“Martini Corner has a good history,” said Caleb Buland of Exact.
“We think there’s a ton of opportunity….We plan to keep all the existing tenants, but everyone knows it’s time for a refresh.”
Exact acquired the existing structures about three months ago and plans to build another 10,000 square-feet of retail space for what’s anticipated to be a new yoga studio, coffee shop, spin-cycle studio and spa.
In addition, the firm plans to build an 8,000 square-foot elevated patio overlooking 31st street that will free up space for additional surface parking beneath and offer patrons an outdoor downtown skyline view.
Exact Partners has become a major player redeveloping the edge of greater downtown as well as Midtown. The firm recently renovated the former Wonder Bread plant at 30th and Troost into the Wonder Shops + Flats.
It also is nearing the completion of the $34 million renovation of the former Netherland Hotel and Monarch Storage buildings near 39th and Main into 144 apartments.
Exact also has acquired the former Kansas City National Guard Armory at 3620 Main and plans to renovate it as a hotel and food court.
And only a block away from its new Martini Corner holdings, Exact recently completed the $4.8 million renovation of the former Acme building at 3200 Gillham Rd. into 27 apartments and the new home of the Kansas City Artists Coalition.
Buland believes the area between the Acme building and Martini Corner, coined Tower East because of its proximity to the 1,000-foot broadcast tower at 31st and Grand, a longtime landmark, is ripe for revitalization.
A stretch of Gillham Road between 31st and Linwood has attracted new businesses including Brewer’s Kitchen.
“We see it as an opportunity for makers and artists who’ve been displaced in the Crossroads,” he said.
City Councilman Eric Bunch has been a prominent supporter of the effort to revitalize the area as a walkable neighborhood, Buland added.
The neighborhood also is within walking distance of Linwood and Main stop that would be built as part of the planned streetcar extension from downtown to UMKC.
The Martini Corner work is expected to begin before the end of this year with completion by late summer 2021.
(Editor’s note: Beginning in December 2019, CityScene KC has become a paid subscription publication)
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