Martin Acres Boulder
Martin Acres Boulder is a neighborhood also known as William Martin Homestead or “Martian Acres”
I moved to Boulder in 2005. At that time I was lucky enough to be offered a house-sitting (IE low rent with some responsibility) position on 31st Street in Martin Acres Boulder.
Driving into Martin Acres Boulder I took a gander out the window and remarked to myself that the neighborhood was not exactly beautiful. But beauty truly lies in the eyes of the beholder, and my eyes had not yet been opened. The place that I later heard referred to as “Martian Acres”, was yet to reveal itself to me.
This was the first day of the rest of my life.
By the time my 3 month house-sitting gig was up, I was enamored with Martin Acres Boulder and the folks who were my neighbors. I set out to find a more permanent home here. A rental to be exact.
As a budding Realtor, newly transplanted from Massachusetts and still working on getting my reciprocal license approved, I didn’t have a salary of course. The lending situation in 2005 was generous, but had not reached the lenient lending standards that 2007 would bring and a new Realtor with less than 2 years working in the business in Colorado, was definitely not qualified to buy.
(I tried not to tell my clients this, if it could be helped!)
You may be asking where I’m going with this. Good question.
I thought it time I shared my real estate experiences with you. Experiences that were lived by and will be told from the perspective of me:
… A “relocatee” to Colorado
… A renter in Boulder
… A first time home buyer in Martin Acres Boulder
… A self employed business owner who wanted a loan
… A do-it-yourself home improvement gal
… Someone who has dealt with contractors of all descriptions
… A Martin Acres Boulder homeowner who has refinanced more than a couple of times
… The secretary of the Martin Acres Neighborhood Association (MANA)
… And the woman who has fallen head over heels in love with a mid-century modern neighborhood, all the while being embraced by and embracing the other souls who share these Martin Acres.
And did I mention I originally hail from New Zealand? So when family comes a calling, they tend to stay a while and need LOTS of guidance regarding the area’s entertainment, shopping and public transportation. (Yes, Kiwis drive on the left and at least for the first week of each visit, I don’t like them navigating the busy streets of Boulder in my car!)
As you may have guessed, this is not going to be short and as such, the “Martin Acres and Me” true story will be broken down into several posts.
First, let’s define what I call Martin Acres Boulder.
It’s that almost triangular slice of south Boulder that is bounded by Broadway to the west, Highway 36 to the east and Table Mesa along the south of the neighborhood.
While this is the commonly defined Martin Acres, its not the original and legal description of Martin Acres.
If you visit the Boulder County mapping site, you will find the real Martin Acres Boulder is a little different! The area north-west of 32nd Street is part of the Highland Park neighborhood. The streets between Table Mesa, S 46th Street, Hanover Ave and S 40th Street are all included in the original Martin Acres Boulder neighborhood.
At some point between the early days of Martin Acres (the 1950’s) and recent history, we re-wrote the boundaries in our minds and called it good! Going forward you can assume I will be using the boundaries illustrated by the first map.
So what makes Martin Acres, Boulder attractive and unique?
Location, location, location!
Whether you work downtown Pearl Street or downtown Denver, this neighborhood is very convenient.
Buses between downtown Boulder and Denver run along Broadway and Table Mesa. Its super easy to jump aboard an express bus to Union Station or Market Station in Denver, be delivered right to the main terminal of Denver International Airport (DIA) or simply avoid driving home after a fun night out!
As you watch the traffic grow more intense each rush hour (rush 4 hours!) along Hwy 36 over the next 10 years, its understandable that you may want to congratulate yourself for choosing a south Boulder neighborhood and a stress-free RTD commute. Martin Acres Boulder delivers!
Bike Paths are one of those things that Boulder does exceptionally well. Our designated paths are safe, well maintained (including on snow days) and criss-cross all over town. Martin Acres Boulder has a path running right through the middle of the neighborhood as well as designated bike routes along many of the roads. I would be lying if I said I had not taken advantage of the bike path to get home lickety-split through the park from Southern Sun when good judgement assured me that driving was A) slower and B) not recommended after a drink or two.
Did you notice all the trails just west of Martin Acres? That’s right! Leaving the neighborhood on Ash Ave or 29th Street you can cross Broadway and follow the hiking paths through or around the federal buildings and into the open space behind them.
Hiking Trails and Open Space are so close. Many of the approximately 1300 homes in Martin Acres Boulder sport views of the Flatirons, but even if you can’t see them from home, you can meander into the foothills in just a few short minutes. Kohler Mesa rises up to the west and from the trail there, you can join the Mesa Trail… leading you north to Chautauqua or south all the way past NCAR and down to Eldorado Springs. Take a walk on the wild side. Enjoy occasional wildlife spotting, ridiculously good views over Boulder and the enjoyable feeling that only an outdoor workout can bring.
Dining and Shopping is just around the corner – literally! Where Table Mesa intersects with Broadway you will find the best King Soopers in Boulder as well as Papa Murphys pizza, Starbucks, Cafe Sole, Southside Walnut Cafe, Murphy’s, Tandoori Grill, Mickey C’s bagel shop, Aspen Leaf frozen yogurt, Elevations Credit Union, Pharmaca, Tuesday Morning, Neptune Mountaineering, Southern Sun, a hardware store, Savers, dry cleaners, liquor store, culinary school, second hand sporting goods, costume store, vet clinic, gym, knitting classes and supplies, cake shop, a satellite Boulder library and so much more!
At the corner of Baseline and Broadway you can do laundry, take Core Yoga classes, shop Whole Foods, get keys cut, indulge at Egg and I, Maywah (Thai/Vietnamese/Chinese) or The Taj restaurants. Here you can also visit the bike shop, send packages, peruse the thrift store or pick up Einstein Bagels, Noodles and Co and other fast food. There is no shortage of coffee either. This plaza has both a Starbucks and Brewing Market.
Just a block away on Baseline (between 27th Way and 30th St) we have Baseline Liquor, Sprouts, Dairy Queen, Carrelli’s restaurant, McDonalds and Cafe Mexicali. Coffee? Yes, Amante has arrived! Did I mention the bike path runs right past this grouping too?
For a slightly longer walk (or on the drive out towards Foothills Pkwy) there is the Safeway Plaza at Foothills and Baseline. Represented here is H&R Block, Urgent Care, Kaiser Permanente, Michaels, Safeway, more liquor, a European bakery, Nick and Willy’s pizza and a sandwich shop. A second satellite Boulder library also resides in this plaza!
And as if that isn’t more than any other neighborhood in Boulder can walk to… At the intersection of Moorhead and Table Mesa you can buy gas, eat Nepalese, visit the Realtor Association, sip coffee, wait in line at the USPS and more!
Martin Acres sits between 2 Boulder Rec Centers.
A short drive or bike ride from south Boulder is where you will find downtown Boulder for walking the Pearl Street Mall or the shopping/movies/dining at the 29th Street Mall.
Heading south-east on Hwy 36 (Denver Boulder Turnpike) for 5 mins will take you to Costco, Sams Club, TJ Maxx, Super Target and many of the big box stores in Louisville and Superior. Five more minutes along this highway brings you to Flatiron Crossing Mall and Walmart in Broomfield. Driving <20 short minutes from here, you will find yourself downtown in Denver… a walkable city that offers a diverse array of restaurants as wells as sporting events, theater, water park, aquarium, learning institutions, art galleries, museums, botanic gardens and a zoo.
And then there is CU Boulder. Martin Acres is one of the closest residential neighborhoods to CU Boulder. An easy walk, bike ride or bus ride! This beautiful campus adds life to the city and local area. It supports a strong rental market and employs a boat load of people. Universities are quite honestly great for the economy!
Once upon a time this was a neighborhood dominated by owner occupants. The homes were new. The neighborhood was new. It was the 50’s and these homes were being snapped up. (More about this later.) During the 90’s and into the next century students flocked into Martin Acres and many houses were rentals. Today however as the demand for single family homes for first time buyers continues, I find that families and younger professionals are dominating the neighborhood once again. We still have students of course and a nice population of retirees, some of whom are original owners. We are about 65% owner occupied as of the time I publish this.
Martin Acres is home to a population that is demographically diverse… a really comfortable mix of people make this an easy area to be accepted in, no matter who you are or where you came from originally.
Perhaps what all these people have in common is the ability to afford a home in Boulder… In Martin Acres if few other locations. (I used the word “afford” with full understanding that it raises eyebrows. You have to know the rest of Boulder – and survive your heart attack – to see it as relatively affordable in Martin Acres, Boulder.)
As a Realtor I do commonly describe Martin Acres, Boulder as a “starter neighborhood”. It is one of the few remaining neighborhoods in Boulder that a single person or couple just starting out, can qualify to buy a detached home.
In 2005 when I moved here, it was possible to find a Martin Acres Boulder house on the smaller and more “fixer” end of the spectrum for just under $300,000. Prices have continued upward despite the economy and demand has not reduced. In 2013, homes listed for $375,000 were being fought over and now in 2014, it is not unusual to see a 1400 square foot ranch without garage, listed for $475,000 – $495,000. Bidding wars caused by scarcity of the number of homes available in general, and the number available in the lower price ranges, are an everyday event.
As a homeowner I receive at least a letter a month from an enthusiastic (frustrated) buyer or their agent. Will I consider selling my house is the question. The answer is always the same… Not likely!
Want to see why? Stay tuned for the next post, where I will show you before and after pictures of my house and give you a good look at the housing market in Martin Acres Boulder.